The Impact Of States Rights During The Reconstruction Era Of The Us.

1496 words - 6 pages

The issue of states rights is one that has been quarreled over since the birth of the United States. In 1787, debates arose on whether to ratify the Constitution, which would create a more supreme federal government, or to keep the Articles of Confederation, in which states had many more rights and powers (Batchelor 7-14). Shortly after the Constitution was ratified, Kentucky and Virginia wanted to nullify a federal law that they didn't agree with, but the Supreme Court established that the right to nullify a law didn't rest with the states (22-24). From 1819 to 1854, slavery as a states right was profoundly argued when deciding if the new states that entered the Union were to be slave states or free states (27-32). Tensions mounted between the North and the South, and after the election of 1860, the Civil War broke out (36). The South thought that the states had the right to secede from the US, but after they lost the war, they were proven wrong (38).After the Civil War, the South faced devastating losses (Hakim 12). Reconstruction, the period of time in which the people of the South tried to reorganize and rebuild the region, began in 1865 (14). In order to restore the Union and to resolve all problems that had still existed, Congress passed laws, acts, and proposed amendments. Many of these pertained to slavery and states rights. The Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 firmly established equal rights for all. The Fourteenth Amendment enforced the Civil Rights Act even more by granting citizenship to blacks (Roberts and Franklin 267). Furthermore, the Fifteenth Amendment guaranteed black suffrage (Roberts and Franklin 268). All of these amendments limited the rights of the states, and are evidence of the battle between federal supremacy and states rights. This battle for power within the government during the Reconstruction greatly affected every aspect of the United States by guaranteeing equality and rights to African-Americans, things they never had before.Before the Civil War, the slavery was a states right; the individual states could decide if they want to allow slavery or not. This changed, however, after the war ended on December 18, 1865. After it passed through both houses of Congress by January of 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified by the required 3/4 of the states, or a total of 27 states. This amendment abolished slavery in all states and territories of the United States, and it took away slavery as a states right. Although the states had lost one of their rights, they had some control over it since they could use their right to either accept or reject amendments (Batchelor 40)The ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment greatly affected the United States economically. Now, about three and a half million slaves were free from their owners. Southerners who once owned slaves now lost their laborers. Economically, most freedmen and freedwomen were very poor and had no property because...

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