President Johnson's Black Codes

1011 Words5 Pages
President Johnson was a supporter of state rights so he was not going to say or do anything. To him, the power to decide what to do with the newly free African-American was in the hands of the states. But when the Congress had a majority of Republicans after the election, it decided to overrule the southern states and with that, the period called Radical Reconstruction began. First, there was the Civil Rights Act in 1866, passed despite Johnson 's veto. There was no doubt anymore that freedmen were citizens and were to be treated as such. "Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That all persons born in the United States […] are hereby declared to be citizens of the United…show more content…
No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." . This meant that the Black Codes were illegal and unconstitutional and the southern states had to get rid of them. Southern states refused to ratify 14th amendment. The Congress required all the southern states to ratify it before they were accepted back into the Union, so that all citizens had "equal protection" once and for all. Georgia was the last to agree to it in 1871. In 1869, the federal government passed the 15th amendment, forbidding any government from denying the right to vote "on the grounds of race, color or previous condition of servitude." This is a big step as the former slaves are finally granted citizenship by the federal government. They even had the right to be elected and during this period, some of them held offices and even got to…show more content…
DuBois, "The slave went free, stood a brief moment in the sun, and then moved back again towards slavery" summarizes the situation of the former slaves during reconstruction quite well. The slaves had a moment of glory with the 14th and 15th amendment to the constitution, granting them rights. But the federal government and the Northern white quickly lost interest in the "black issue" and did not push it further. At the end of Reconstruction, the freedmen were still exploited, treated badly and unfairly and still economically dependent on the whites. Reconstruction was "a splendid failure" (W.E.B. DuBois) in granting former slaves freedom and equal rights; but then, the war had not been about freeing
Open Document