Below are the essential points to the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution. These excerpts are taken from: The Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Northwest Ordinance
The title I chose may seem to be provocative. But what I wish to bring out is that the all-inclusive clause in the Declaration of Independence that covers everything that’s included in these Amendments to the Constitution. I believe on an historical basis that the all-inclusive clause is “all men are created equal” should be the basis of our “Common Law”.
But we’ve explained this away by sinful and greedy compromises and loss of our Christian foundations.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The 13th Amendment was needed to put an end to slavery once and for all. Before the 13th Amendment, there were many laws that protected slavery, so passing this 13th Amendment instantly threw all of these old laws out. Twenty-seven out of thirty-six states ratified the Amendment and the 13th Amendment was adopted into the constitution on December 6, 1865.
After the 13th Amendment, no one could force anyone, with physical force, fraud, or threatening legal action to work against their will. This did not stop people from scaring people into working for them, although this was outlawed in 2000. If anyone forces anyone else to work against their free will, then the United States government will prosecute them for violations of the 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment is a very important Amendment that defines what it means to be a US citizen and protects certain rights of the people. There are three important “clauses” in the 14th Amendment, each of which is still important today. A clause is a sentence in any part of our constitution.
Citizenship Clause – the citizenship clause gives individuals born in the United States, but especially at that time, African Americans the right to citizenship. Before the 14th Amendment, African Americans could not become citizens and this limited the rights of those that we’re able to escape slavery and become free. This clause allows all people born in the United States to be US citizens.
Although this right was established by the Civil Rights of 1866, this Amendment made the law permanent as many feared that the law could be overturned and take away the citizenship of African Americans. Later on, the Supreme Court protected this right for the children of immigrants, and the right of Native Americans to become citizens also was protected later on.
Once you have American citizenship, it cannot be taken from you by Congress or other authorities, unless you lie to the government during the process to get US citizenship. Otherwise, everyone that becomes an American citizen stays an American citizen, unless they give it up themselves.
Due Process Clause – the due process clause protects the 1st Amendment rights of the people and prevents those rights from being taken away by any government without “due process.” Due process is a trial by jury for all people accused of wrongdoing. Although you may think the 1st Amendment already protects these rights, the 14th Amendment especially enforces the Bill of Rights on the states, to make sure that they can never limit the rights of Americans without fairness. There were also a number of rights that are protected for those that are accused of a crime but have not been proven to do anything wrong yet.
Equal Protection Clause – This part of the fourteenth Amendment states that there may be no discrimination against them by the law. The federal government enforces this protection on the states, ensuring that they do not. Remember that the Bill of Rights protects some rights for Americans. The equal protection clause extended this protection to the state governments. This clause of the 14th Amendment would later be used to end discrimination and segregation in the South.
The 14th Amendment was important in bring the Confederacy back into the United States after the Civil War. The US took responsibility for the pensions for a soldier that had fought in the war and refused to take on the Confederate debts, while also preventing former Confederate leaders from holding elected office or civil positions. Section 3 of the Amendment allowed some of these leaders to regain their posts if 2/3 of the state legislatures voted to allow it. The 14th Amendment also ensured that debts due to the emancipation of slaves were “null and void” (not allowed).
The 15th Amendment protects the rights of Americans to vote in elections to elect their leaders. Specifically, it confirms the right to vote and lists conditions that are illegal to deny another person the right to vote. Any American cannot be denied the right to vote, based on race, color, or being a former slave.
The 15th Amendment was important in that it not only finally gave African Americans the right to vote but also allowed the most African Americans in history to be elected into public office. Once in office, they pursued laws that provided schools for all children and allowed people of different races to be married.
After the US Army was pulled out of the South, white Southerners reasserted their power and passed laws that prevented those whose grandfathers had not been citizens from voting as well as making people pay to vote. This prevented African Americans from voting meaningfully in the South until much later in the 20th century. Therefore, even though the 15th Amendment protected the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities, it was not until much later that the federal government stepped in to enforce it.
Can anyone explain why these three Amendments were needed when the Declaration of Independence (DoI) states in the second paragraph:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
The 13th Amendment clearly shows that the Emancipation Proclamation was more than just a tool for use during the Civil War. How did slavery ever exist if we had stuck to the DoI? I can’t help to think of one reason only – that of considering blacks not to be men. To say whites would be treated the same way because of the economics of having slave labor is not valid I believe. People tell me that Irish were treated just like slaves, but history does not verify the “just like” aspect. For blacks, “Irish”, and Indians there was certifiably no “rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
The Citizenship Clause, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause were rights that white families always enjoyed. I remember the 1960’s when Southern sympathizers would explain how separate but equal was really “equal”. If blacks couldn’t vote, weren’t protected from the KKK, received lower pay than their white co-workers, black men were still called “boy”, etc. how could they be equal? People tell me laws don’t change people. But walls do separate people, and these restrictions were “walls” in every sense of the word. And they were backed up by the violation of every clause in the 14th Amendment.
Again there was no “rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
The 15th Amendment gives the right to vote. It is our most important right. Only an empowered people can succeed and pull themselves up. Deny people the right to vote and you strip them of their power. To this day there are still efforts to limit the voting by blacks.
We should be a nation that celebrates the power to vote – for ALL Americans.
Unfortunately, voting power is based on dollars. Political leverage has a price. And the people that have always been marginalized have an additional hurdle that others don’t. The results are neighborhoods that have polluting factories in their midst and no power to change that. People in wealthier neighborhoods have to political power to exclude any “undesirable elements” including half-way houses for recovering addicts or people that are mentally and physically challenged..
Again there was no “rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.
Moral and Religious
Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. John Adams
Treatment Of Slaves
While the Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery, it does give instructions on how slaves should be treated during those times. Slavery was not particularly addressed in the Bible but slavery was very different during the time the Bible was written.
National Fast Day
John Adams declared that America was a Christian nation which had a duty to obey the God of the Bible. This was not just his personal opinion, but was expressed in an official proclamation as President at the request of Congress.
As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, not any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the growing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributor of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness of individuals and to the well-being of communities….I have thought proper to recommend, and I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the most high God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34].
John Adams, “National Fast Day,” A COMPILATION OF THE MESSAGES AND PAPERS OF THE PRESIDENTS, 1:284-86.