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Overview of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments

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The thirteenth amendment states that all forms of slavery and involuntary labor will no longer exist under the ruling of the United States’ government, unless used as punishment for individuals convicted of a crime. The 13th amendment abolishes slavery and does not allow an individual to force another individual, or party, to perform labor or work without their consent. If someone is found guilty of a crime in the United States, then they may be subject to some form of slavery and involuntary labor, according to the amendment. Following the Union victory of the civil war and an unsuccessful Emancipation Proclamation that was not taken seriously in the South, the government felt the need to create a constitutional amendment that forever abolished slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was unsuccessful, but the 13th amendment successfully abolished involuntary labor and was taken seriously in the South. Lincoln and Republicans finally reached their goal of abolishing slavery in the United States with the ratification of this amendment. The abolishment of slavery shifted internal power to the hands of the north because the south would no longer be able to mass produce with the abolishment of slavery.

The Fourteenth amendment states that all individuals born or that have received citizenship via naturalization within the United States is considered a citizen by the country and their state. States do not have the power to create laws intended to deprive a United States citizen of basic rights nor to deny a U.S. citizen protection from laws. The only way a citizen could lose access to equal rights would be through legal procedures, such as being convicted of a crime. The freedom of former slaves led to discrimination and segregation in the United States. The south especially did not accept the integration of blacks into their society, so the only way to protect the citizenship and equal rights of African Americans was to draft an amendment that disallowed states to deprive African Americans of their pursuit of equality. The south would have taken measures that completely isolated and deprived former slaves of equality without the ratification of the 14th amendment. Although many conservatives continued to discriminate against former slaves, the 14th amendment was successful in that it continued the pursuit of African American equality, setting the boundary of who is considered a citizen of the United States, and restructuring Southern society.

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The fifteenth amendment states that neither the State, nor the federal government has the authority to deprive a United States’ citizen of the right to vote based on race. The amendment specifically says that race, nor previous slavery, should be a factor in determining if a citizen has the right to vote. The amendment was necessary in determining that voting rights extended to African Americas. Without the ratification of this amendment, former slaves would not have been allowed a political voice at the time. Many of the votes of African Americans were manipulated by Democrats at the voting booth and tests, such as literacy and property, were designed to disallow blacks the ability to vote. This amendment was necessary to ensure that the government of the United States was not solely determined by Whites. Republicans pushed for the ratification of this amendment because the large population of African Americans would be sure to vote for the political party that fought for their freedom. Although voting rights were extended to all male citizens of the United States, the amendment failed to address Women suffrage. Although every male, regardless of race, was represented, females of every race were still not granted suffrage in the United States.

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