Analyzing Civil Rights Essay

1824 words - 7 pages

Slavery, Civil Rights, and the Constitution during the 19th CenturyIn 1619, a Dutch ship sailed into Jamestown, Virginia and sold twenty African slaves to the Virginia colonists, thus slavery and involuntary servitude begun. Throughout the early 1800s the South and the North drifted progressively further apart over the issue of allowing the institution of human slavery to continue in the United States. In 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president and refused to let the southern states "go in peace and made a movement to abolish slavery, which resulted in the American Civil War. After the Civil War was over, Congress passed the three great Civil War Amendments to our constitution. In this paper I will take a closer look at Slavery, Civil Rights, and the Constitution during the 19th Century (AfricanAmericans.Com, 2004).The Dred Scott DecisionDred Scott and his wife Harriet were slaves owned by Master Sanford. In 1846, Mr. and Mrs. Scott filed suit for their freedom in the St. Louis Circuit Court. This suit began an eleven-year legal fight that ended in the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court issued a landmark decision declaring that Scott and his wife are to remain a slave, that they are property, and the Constitution made no distinction between slaves and other types of property. The judge reasoned that the Missouri Compromise deprived slaveholding citizens of their property in the form of slaves, and that therefore the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional, which contributed to rising tensions between the free and slave states just before the American Civil War (University Libraries, 2004). Mr. and Mrs. Scott's only last hope was that the Chief Justice would decide that Scott was free because of his length of stay in the free state of Illinois, but the Chief Justice made no such decision. Instead the Chief Justice stated: "the status of slaves who had been taken to free States or territories and who had afterwards returned depended on the law of the State where they resided when they brought suit." Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Scott had brought suit in Missouri and Missouri was a slave state, Mr. and Mrs. Scott remained a slave. In the end, the Chief Justice ruled that the case be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and sent back to the lower court with instructions for that court to dismiss the case for the same reason, therefore upholding the Missouri Supreme Court's ruling in favor of Master Sanford (PBS, 2004).Civil War Amendments to the ConstitutionIn the aftermath of the Civil War, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments were passed to abolish slavery and to aid the securing of equal rights. Congress proposed the Thirteenth Amendment to the states on January 31, 1865. It was ratified by 27 of the 36 states on December 18, 1865. The Fourteenth Amendment was proposed on June 13, 1866 and ratified by 28 of 37 states on July 28, 1868. The Fifteenth Amendment was proposed on February 26, 1869 and ratified by 29 of the 37 states on March...

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