The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth amendments of the US constitution are the most important ones that brought equality to American society. According to Kay, those three amendments abolished slavery, provided the security of the civil rights of the freed slaves, and hindered society from denying the vote on race (249). The 13th amendment abolishes slavery, the 14th guarantees equal rights to American citizens, and prohibits passing any discriminating laws in any state. It states as well that in case a state somehow tries to restrict some citizens’ rights, it will be punished with the diminishing of the number of state representatives in the House of Representatives. According to the 15th amendment, electoral rights are provided to colored citizens and the descendants of slaves. Those changes relate to the so-called Reconstruction era after the Civil war from 1865 to 1877, which brought freedom to the American land (Moretta 439). The 13th amendment was issued during the war, while the other two were passed only after its end. However, the black slaves’ rights were constantly discussed during the war.
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Although the Emancipation Proclamation was issued three years before the first of the three reconstruction amendments, some still insisted on the necessity of the 13th correction, which stated the abolishment of slavery. As both acts were passed during the time of the Civil war in the United States, their submission could go wrong, and it did. The 13th modification of the US constitution was truly a need as the emancipation proclamation did not apply to all states and was not taken seriously in the areas of rebellion. Therefore, the amendment passed two years later was urged to free slaves in all states and end the war. However, the transportation of colored people was restricted; they were supposed to work on the white, and mischarged past slaves were used as labor for rent on plantations and factories. Hence, even after the submission of the 13th amendment, the attitude toward black people remained unfair for years. Nowadays, prison labor is not such a big issue as it was before; however, the prisoners’ workforce is still used in both public and private prisons.
According to the 14th amendment, Congress is allowed to reduce a state’s representation if that state disenfranchises any group of voters, which is a good source of equality control. Despite the United States Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, the 14th modification gave equal rights to all people born in the United States regardless of their skin color (Moretta 436). This correction is the most democratic in the history of the USA. Therefore, it mentioned several punishments for states who did not admit to following new rules. This measure was mostly taken to prevent the so-called “Black Codes” from functioning.
The South remained conservative even after the passing of those amendments, which means that there was a way of eluding the implementation of those acts. There is a known loophole in the 15th modification that allowed to decrease in the part of colored people in politics. The most common ways of reducing their influence were poll taxes and literacy tests, as well as intimidations from the white people’s side. Moretta states that widespread poverty led to the hindering of black political rights (440). However, white people were not obliged to pass those literacy tests according to the grandfather clause, which made the situation even more unfair. All those discriminating situations were happening because the 15th amendment was taken too narrow by the US Supreme Court; later, it reopened the case and broadened the correction, though.
Although the voting system has been modified much since those times, it is still not perfect. Therefore, some young people face difficulties in taking part in the voting process for the first time. For example, the US election system is often judged for its complexity and opacity. Some claims that the 538 actual electors do not represent the citizens’ opinion are made as well. Therefore, some may think that even the modern voting process is related to discrimination; however, even if it is so, the inequality is hidden from being recognized.
Moretta, John, et al. The American Challenge: A New History of the United States. Abigail Press, 2015.
Kay, Richard. “Formal and Informal Amendment of the United States Constitution.” The American Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 66, no. 1, 2018, pp. 243-268. Web.
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