What have been the effects of the 13th through 15th Amendments?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There have been two major effects of these amendments.

First of all, all three of the amendments taken together have been used to advance the cause of minority rights in the United States.  This is especially true of the 14th Amendment.  This amendment says that all people shall enjoy the equal protection of the laws.  This clause has been the basis for much of the movement towards equal rights for blacks, women, gay people, etc.  The 15th Amendment has been used to protect the voting rights of minorities from being diluted either explicitly or through more circuitous means.

Second, the 14th Amendment has been used to incorporate the Bill of Rights, making it apply to the states as well as to the federal government.  Until the early 1900s, the Bill of Rights did not apply to state governments.  Over time, the Supreme Court has used the 14th Amendment to require states to abide by the Bill of Rights as well.

Yojana_Thapa's profile pic

Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Primarily, The Thirteenth Amendment, 1865 abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. It completed the task of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Fourteenth Amendment, 1868 made the former slaves citizens. It provided for equal protection of the laws for all citizens. The Fifteenth Amendment, 1870 provided the right to vote for Black males. This itself brought political and economic equality to the former slaves. But the point is even though slavery was abolished, the treatment, the attitude towards them, African Americans didn’t change.

South formed the Black codes. Under these codes blacks didn’t not have the right to bear arms, be involved in any jobs other than farming. The south was a society where they couldn’t live without slaves. Slaves were a major labor source. For it to be take out, it would cause chaos. This is what exactly happened. The effectiveness of these constitutional amendments were hindered by these unnecessary rules imposed by the south. These often slowed down reconstruction. In addition, the KKK were groups that opposed Black having the right to vote. The weakness and hindrance is shown in the Supreme Court case United States v. Reese. It was a case in 1876 in which the Supreme Court upheld practices as the poll tax, the literacy test, and the Grandfather Clause. This case definitely helped undermine African American and their rights stated in the 15th Amendment. Sharecropper was another factor that was evolved from Reconstruction that put many African Americans in debt!

On the other hand, many rights and acts were passed to support the constitutional amendments. Freedmen’s Bureau, which was established in March of 1865 to care for refugees. Carpetbaggers went to the South to oppose the practice of slavery and they went to check on how the black were being treated. Civil Rights act of 1866 declared black as citizens of the United States, this strengthened the 13th Amendment. 

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