The New Life of African Americans Due to Amendments. A Slavery Essay Example

Over the years, the movement of slavery has changed because of many protests and individuals. However it was mainly, due to three specific Amendments. The lives of African Americans changed as a result of the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments because African American men can vote, the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship and finally the 13th Amendment contained the abolishment of slavery in 1865. This was in the period of Reconstruction when Congress ordered the South to rebuild. It was marked by their quest for freedom and equal rights, both as individuals and for the black community. Even though many people did not agree with these Amendments, they still made them work as they created a long lasting effect in the U.S.

The 13th Amendment affected the lives of African Americans greatly because more blacks took office, equal punishment, and  guaranteed the rights of newly freed slaves. The Amendment finalized what small cities and the Emancipation of Proclamation set in motion. This means that no matter what race you are, a punishment would be equal. As stated in the article, The Impact and Legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime...where has been convicted shall exist within the United States.” Also, the 13th Amendment guaranteed the abolishment of slavery in 1865 to protect the rights of newly freed people. These rights also changed the political landscape. By 1872, 1,510 African American men held office and eight men served in the United States congress. Even though the 13th Amendment affected the African Americans greatly, the 14th Amendment enforced their protection.    

For African Americans, the 14th Amendment is important toward having social equality in America. The African American quality of lives increased greatly because they had equal rights. The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship rights and promised that the Federal government would enforce equal protection of these laws. However, this did not apply with the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said a black man, even if born free, could not claim rights of citizenship under the Federal Constitution. This intended to stop state governments from discriminating against black Americans, and over the years would play a key role in many important civil rights cases. The bill also guaranteed access to the law; a direct assault on the Black Codes, which restricted the lives of African Americans. As you can see, the 14th amendment changed the pathway to African American freedom but the 15th Amendment also played an important role.

The 15th Amendment was important because African Americans could now use their voice to better their livelihood. The 15th Amendment granted all black men the right to vote. The African American community joined with Southern States to elect the Republican party to power, making all controlled Confederates states back into the Union because of the black voters. However, many people did not like the idea of African Americans using their votes. By late 1879, various discriminatory practices were used to prevent all slaves from exercising their right to vote, including poll taxes and literacy test.

Literacy tests were designed for an illiterate person to cast their vote in a wrong ballot. This had a large differential racial impact, since only 8-18% of whites were illiterate compared to the 40-60% of blacks. The poll taxes were also designed to give African Americans less of a chance to vote for who they wanted by imposing a $1-$2 tax on each vote. This may seem like a little amount but it was beyond the reach of many poor blacks. The poll taxes reduced overall turnout by 16-28 percent and 50 percent of black votes. Luckily, in 1964, poll taxes became illegal in Federal elections by the Supreme court by the Voting Rights Act. Still, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 gave African American voters hope to challenge voting restrictions and greatly improved voter turnout.

As one can see, slavery has changed drastically over the years because of multiple things. One important reasons is due to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. The 13th Amendment protected the rights of free slaves. While the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship rights and said that the Federal government kept these laws. And finally, the 15th Amendment granted the right for African Americans men to vote. So, the lives of African Americans changed for the better because of the these three Amendments.



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