HIST 3550 Final

HIST 3550 Final - 1 All men are created equal. The infamous...

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“All men are created equal.” The infamous words from the Declaration of Independence that helped build the cornerstone for the American Constitution. Despite the liberating nature of this promise, United States history has proven that this “equality” was not given to “all”; giving all constitutional rights and exceptions to adult white men only. For almost two centuries after the birth of the nation, there was an extensive amount of underrepresentation for many Americans; specifically African-American’s and women. However, contemporary society has proven that since the establishment of the Constitution in 1789 these minority groups made extraordinary efforts to break through the cartel of liberties previously held by white men only. America has seen to distinct periods in which civil rights were at the heart of Constitutional controversy and development. The post-Civil war period known as Reconstruction saw the extension of suffrage to black American through the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth Amendments. Nonetheless these gains were stalled to the extreme racial backlash in the south, and exemplified by the numerous anti-black court rulings such as Plessy v. Ferguson, and the Presidential veto against the Civil Rights Act of 1866. Along with this women’s efforts were also rejected as demonstrated with the civil rights case, Minor v. Happersett. It wasn’t until over a century later that these controversial issues were questioned again with the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. Court cases such as Sweatt v. Painter and the infamous Brown v. Board of Education that finally brought liberation to blacks. The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which not only brought equality to blacks but to women as well, enforced these cases; women also sought suffrage through the Equal Rights Amendment. Despite the somewhat arbitrary efforts put forth during Reconstruction, the Civil Rights movement of the twentieth century brought liberation to blacks and women, allowing these minorities to shatter the narrow interpretation of “all men created equal.” 1
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The post civil-war period aimed to bring liberation and freedoms to blacks, reinforcing Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation of Proclamation of 1863. Between the time of 1865 and 1870 the government moved to extend suffrage to all blacks through a set of amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments. The first of these being the Thirteenth Amendment, which aimed to make ex-slaves full Americans by officially abolishing slavery in 1865. Section one reads as follows, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The Fifteenth Amendment of 1870 removed race as obstruction to vote, claiming that the right to vote could not be denied to a citizen based on race, color, or prior servitude. However the amendment that proved to be the most influential and
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HIST 3550 Final - 1 All men are created equal. The infamous...

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