American History Series: The Fifteenth Amendment

I’m still studying the Reconstruction era.

In this decade, we got the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Reconstruction Act of 1867, the Fourteenth Amendment (1868), the Fifteenth Amendment (1870), the three Force Act Acts (1870-1875) and the Civil Rights Act of 1875 which had the cumulative effect of overturning the American Founding and creating the liberal state. It was the founding of the American Empire.

The following excerpt comes from Eric Foner’s The Second Founding: How The Civil War And Reconstruction Remade The Constitution:

“Despite its real limitations, the Fifteenth Amendment was a remarkable achievement in the context of nineteenth-century American history. It affirmed that only a few years after the death of slavery African-Americans were now equal members of the body politic.”

As Eric Foner explains, the abolition of slavery in the Thirteenth Amendment forced the question of the status of the free negro in both the North and South. This inexorably led to citizenship and basic civil rights in the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The constitutionality of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was dubious in light of the Dred Scott decision. This led in turn to the Reconstruction Act of 1867, which dissolved the Southern states, enfranchised blacks and placed the former Confederate states under military rule (strangely, the sovereign states couldn’t secede from the Union, but they could be unilaterally expelled from it by the Republican Congress), and the Fourteenth Amendment which was the condition of readmitting the Southern states to the Union.

Black suffrage in the Fifteenth Amendment was the culmination of abolitionism. There had been a seamless transition from abolitionist radicalism to civil rights radicalism because both had been inspired by liberalism.

“Abolitionists hailed the amendment as the culmination of the antislavery crusade, the “most important victory” the movement had achieved. “Never was revolution more complete,” declared a euphoric Frederick Douglass at a celebration in Albany. “We have all we asked, and more than we expected.” “Nothing in all history,” William Lloyd Garrison exulted, equaled “this wonderful, quiet, sudden transformation of four million of human beings from the auction block to the ballot-box.” Having decided not to dissolve after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, the American Anti-Slavery Society now deemed its work complete. Its annual meeting of May 1869, shortly after congressional approval, declaring the amendment “the capstone and completion of our movement; the fulfillment of our pledge to the Negro race.” It urged abolitionists to fight one last battle – for ratification – and made the unusual suggestion that Congress carve new states out of Texas (as authorized by the 1845 joint resolution annexing the Lone Star Republic) if necessary to secure ratification.”

The Force Acts were used to put down the Klan:

“Republicans understood that military force was sometimes crucial to blacks’ ability to exercise their new rights without violent retribution. Although the army’s record concerning treatment of blacks was hardly without flaws, from the earliest days of Reconstruction its presence had enabled freedpeople to try to breathe meaning into the freedom they had acquired. The use of the army in civil affairs was antithetical to democratic traditions. Nonetheless, in 1871 and 1872 President Grant used the powers granted to him by the Enforcement Acts to crush the Ku Klux Klan. Federal marshals arrested Klansmen in numerous parts of the South. In North Carolina, the army, which had stood by for two years without acting, effectively suppressed the organization. The president suspended the writ of habeas corpus in nine South Carolina counties wracked by violence. Troops arrested hundreds of Klansmen, and the group’s leaders fled the state. Some sought refuge in Canada, following in the footsteps, ironically, of fugitive slaves before the Civil War. A series of widely publicized trials followed. Overall, between 1871 and 1873, federal prosecutors brought nearly 2,500 criminal cases under the Enforcement Acts, mostly for conspiracy to hinder voting or to deprive a person of equal protection of the laws because of race. They did not charge defendants with murder or assault, to avoid the question of whether the federal government could punish violations of state law.”

The fate of the Klan during Reconstruction is instructive for those who continue to believe that White America can be saved through fed posting and violence. It didn’t work in Reconstruction with battle hardened ex-Confederate soldiers.

Ultimately, it was the sheer passage of time that brought down Reconstruction. The memory of the war and the religious fervor that had inspired it faded. Northerners were fickle and grew tired of dealing with the South’s racial problems. The Gilded Age was beginning and with it new issues came to dominate national politics. This era also overlapped with the rise of Darwinism which discredited racial equality. Republicans in the late 19th century became more concerned with business and materialism than with racial equality. The Fourteenth Amendment was mainly interpreted by the Republican-dominated Supreme Court to protect the rights of corporations.

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8 Comments

  1. “Ultimately, it was the sheer passage of time that brought down Reconstruction.”

    You’ve got to give some credit to the Injuns, who diverted Yankee’s attentions from the South to the West.

  2. “The fate of the Klan during Reconstruction is instructive for those who continue to believe that White America can be saved through fed posting and violence. It didn’t work in Reconstruction with battle hardened ex-Confederate soldiers.”

    While fed posting and silly lone wolf type attacks could not be more counterproductive, I simply cant agree with this. The Klan specifically was indeed suppressed and is the most famous paramilitary organization of the era but they were far from the only one. Southern whites basically waged a 10 year insurgency against the Fed Gov that culminated with Hamptons victory in the 77 governors race. One year earlier, Governor Stone and the Red Shirts had waged a downright brutal campaign that succeeded in Redeeming MS. It’s true that Reconstruction came to an end because of Northern weariness but is this not the point of guerilla warfare? And was that not what Reconstruction, for all intents and purposes, really was? An insurgency?The NVA and Viet Cong did the same thing to us back in the early 70’s. The Taliban has done it now in Afghanistan. I appreciate the desire to keep the crazies down but the idea that violence should not be used against unjust rule and that it cant be effective is just silly. Far from “never solving anything”, violence, anchored in justice, and waged by free men in a righteous cause, will solve most things, actually.

  3. That said, all of those campaigns succeeded because they had the support of a very large portion of the population. We dont have that. The South barely even exists anymore within the hearts and minds of our so called people. Our identity must be rebuilt as a step one. And then the conviction that that identity is worth making great sacrifices to protect must be instilled. Baby steps.

  4. “strangely, the sovereign states couldn’t secede from the Union, but they could be unilaterally expelled from it by the Republican Congress.”

    It’s only strange if you don’t understand that Northerners are fundamentally hostile to republican government and the Constitution. This is because they view such as essentially foreign and strange, and as having been imposed on them by Southrons. Which they deeply and especially resent. And for which, they sought and got revenge, between 1830 and the present.

    .

  5. Southern elites may not of _liked_ reconstruction but they still saw it as preferable to any meaningful separation from blacks. Southern elites were not willing to lose access to a racially under class they could exploit for profit.

    General Sherman’s 40 acre and a mule plan may have been called off by DC regardless, however this will always be an unknown as southern elites were ultimately more comfortable with enfranchising blacks than they were with creating separate black states in the Carolina’s.

    The fact the Carolina’s was chosen by the great Sherman makes it only that much more bitter his plan never came into being.

    The Carolina’s was home to the largest and most powerful Jewish communities in the south. Disposing the Carolina’s would’ve removed the most toxic elements of the Confederacy.

    Alabama, Mississippi and the Carolina’s were home to the largest mega plantations. In Hollywood and academia the focus is always primarily on Mississippi and Alabama as their mega plantation owners were gentiles. While the Carolina’s plantations only get mentioned as a passing footnote. Despite the fact the Jewish owned plantations of the Carolinas were far more brutal. The Carolinas was one of the few places Congo slaves were imported to America. Most American slaves were from the West coast of Africa, while west coast African’s iq may be far below the average of whites, west Africans enjoy almost a standard deviation (15 points) on Africans from the congo.

    Congo slaves were far cheaper than west African slaves and were mostly imported to Jewish Brazilian slave owners who would “turn & burn” em, eg work them until they die and buy more.

    As opposed to gentile slave owners of the south who would allow their slaves to engage in family formation and would reassign their slaves to less demanding tasks as they aged.

    The Carolina’s were also home to the “buck farms” that bred the biggest strongest slaves for sale after the 1820 ban on the importation of new slaves into america. While these stories are largely exaggerated the few that existed were mostly located in the Carolina’s by Jewish slave owners.

    While i sympathize with the modern Confederate’s desire for their home and to preserve their culture, i am unsympathetic to the Confederacy as a historical institution. Any examination of reconstruction that omits the southern elites role is either; A) Yankee revisionism to paint the north with the morals of the current year or B) southern revisionism to paint the southern elites as helpless victims.

  6. These things may have been the seeds but States Rights remained a powerful force for a long time after. Woodrow Wilson wouldn’t intervene in child labor because making child labor laws was a right reserved for the states. The real fall of the Republic came when our elite got a taste of being world crusaders during WW2 and the Cold War. That’ s when the American people, white America, became just another colony to be milked and controlled by them. Just another resource to be used. They were embarrassed by a black population that was living more or less at their natural level (actually, they were already living far above their abilities because they were living among whites). Whites had to be robbed for a massive wealth transference to the black community to bring them up to a semblance of a first-world lifestyle, and of course to accomplish this required putting centralized power into the hands of the few. Black Run America. American government became a colonial government with whites playing the exploited (and ultimately exterminated) native parts. America of the 1950s would be a cream dream to most alt-righters of today.

  7. “We have all we asked”

    The irony of this statement. If only we had been so lucky. Instead we get a century and a half of continuously asking for more and more.

  8. Lost the war. That was the end of it. When the next one comes. I hope our guys will fight a little harder, a little meaner. Less Lee and more Quantrill.

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