Good Example Of Essay On The Fourteenth Amendment
The Fourteenth Amendment was a landmark change to the US constitution. Adapted on July 9, 1868, this was in response to the recently finished Civil War, and was one of the Reconstruction Amendments. It granted citizenship to all people born in America, as well as equal protection under the law. As this was done with slavery in mind, there were many reactions around the nation. This amendment had been suggested by the Radical Republicans in the north, despite the wishes of President Andrew Johnson, and in the end, the Radical Republicans got what they wanted by passing the amendment.
Section 1 of the amendment is the most importance section of the law. The amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States (“14th Amendment”).” This clause would have made most white Northerners, especially the Radical Republicans, very pleased as now America had progressed in terms of the racial divide and former slaves could be free citizens. Former slaves would have also supported this, as they had freedom under the law. This amendment would not have been supported as heavily in the South, due to the fact the slaves were now free and this would have been a crushing blow to the economy. Because of this, most southern states refused to ratify the amendment, and it took political maneuvering from Congress. They had to force the south to ratify the amendment before being allowed representation to Congress (“The Fourteenth Amendment Ratified”).
The consequences of passing this amendment were monumental. It directly created more freedom for thousands of people, and would pave the way for more issues of freedom to be addressed. Women, for example, were not given the right to vote through this law, but because of the radical nature, a re-examination of freedom would occur across the country for the next 50 years. In fact, the amendment passed directly after the 14th, would give black males the right to vote. What this meant is that the 14th amendment and the whole group of Reconstruction Amendments were really an attempt by the government to enforce freedom. The US government was directly creating laws making people more free. This was not how this issue had been interpreted before.
Prior to the Reconstruction era, the government had been seen primarily as a restriction to freedom. The government could not do or impose certain things, because government by its very nature was seen as intrusive. What happened instead was now people saw that the government could be used as a way of creating more freedoms, through legislation. The term commonly used for this is “positive liberty.” This is the view that freedom consists of living a certain type of life or attaining a certain lifestyle (“Positive Liberty”). This is why the white Northerners and former slaves were pleased with the passage of this amendment. They saw this as a way of achieving their goal of black equality under the law, and could potentially pave the way for a more equal society. Through events such as the Reconstruction Acts, the whole landscape of freedom shifted from one where the government was always intruding, to one where institutions could impose freedom on others. It is from this idea that the entire progressive movement is based off of, including women’s rights to vote, and the Civil Rights legislation in the 1960’s.
"14th Amendment." Cornell Law. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv>.
"Positive Liberty." Michigan State University. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <https://www.msu.edu/course/iah/231a/rauscher/Positive.htm>.
"The Fourteenth Amendment Ratified." PBS. Web. 28 Jan. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/jimcrow/stories_events_14th.html>.
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