The Bill of Rights: The Civil War Amendments

Introduction to the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments



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The Bill of Rights has guaranteed our freedoms and rights for over 200 years. In this regular series, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center looks at how they relate to society today.

“In response to the Civil War, the United States adopted the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, known as the Reconstruction Amendments, to abolish slavery and to afford the formerly enslaved African Americans constitutional rights of citizenship, equal protection, and voting rights.”

“However, African American women did not gain the right to vote until the 19th Amendment passed giving all women that right.”

“In addition, to rejoin the Union, the defeated Southern states were required to approve these Amendments.”

“The Reconstruction Amendments expanded the Federal Government's role in protecting civil rights, although the power of these Amendments had been thwarted by state legislation and private and public actors who undermined their effectiveness.”

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