The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

From Dred Scott to the Civil Rights Act of 1875

Making Connections

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

In just 18 years (1857–1875), African-Americans went from enslavement and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling concluding that they were not citizens and were not entitled to the protection of the Federal government (Dred Scott decision), to becoming American citizens with voting rights and access to public transportation, lodging, and other facilities (the Civil Rights Act of 1875). How did this happen?

Look at the documents and the events they represent.  How are the adjacent documents related to each other?

Click on the "Enter Your Response" tab in the middle of the documents and explain the relationship between these adjacent documents (and what the documents represent).


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

From Dred Scott to the Civil Rights Act of 1875

Making Connections

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Fill in any blanks in the sequence with your thoughts and write your conclusion response in the space provided.

Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford


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Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln


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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union


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Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery


Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E


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Emancipation Proclamation


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Photograph of United States Colored Troops at Port Hudson, Louisiana


Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution


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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution


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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution


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Sumner Civil Rights Bill





1

Activity Element

Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford

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2

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Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln

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3

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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4

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Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery

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Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E

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Emancipation Proclamation

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Photograph of United States Colored Troops at Port Hudson, Louisiana

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8

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Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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9

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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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10

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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Sumner Civil Rights Bill

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Conclusion

From Dred Scott to the Civil Rights Act of 1875

Making Connections

The speed at which these changes took place was phenomenal considering how little change or social improvement African-Americans were able to make in the prior 250 years. This quick change was not well-received by others in the country. In 1883, the U.S. Supreme Court found the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. And by the 1890s, many Southern states had either re-written or changed their state constitutions with unique ways to deny African-Americans the right to vote. Although the fight to retain them continued, these rights granted in the 1860s and 1870s were not strongly re-established until the 1960s and beyond.

Select three documents (or the events they represent) from this activity that you consider to have had the most impact on the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century and compose a five-paragraph essay to support your argument.

Your Response




Document

Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford

3/6/1857

In this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that slaves were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the Federal Government or the courts. The opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a Federal territory.

In 1846 an enslaved man named Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, had sued for their freedom in a St. Louis city court. The odds were in their favor. They had lived with their owner, an army surgeon, at Fort Snelling, then in the free Territory of Wisconsin. The Scotts' freedom could be established on the grounds that they had been held in bondage for extended periods in a free territory and were then returned to a slave state. Courts had ruled this way in the past. However, what appeared to be a straightforward lawsuit between two private parties became an 11-year legal struggle that culminated in one of the most notorious decisions ever issued by the Supreme Court.

By the time the case reached the high Court, it had come to have enormous political implications for the entire nation. Slavery had become the single most explosive issue in American politics. On March 6, 1857, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion, which stated that slaves were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the Federal Government or the courts. The opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a Federal territory. This decision moved the nation a step closer to Civil War.

The decision of Scott v. Sanford, considered by legal scholars to be the worst ever rendered by the Supreme Court, was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens of the United States.

Transcript

Missouri - C. C. U. S.
No. 7.

Dred Scott, Plff in Er
vs.
John F. A. Sandford

Filed 30th December 1854.

Dismissed for want of jurisdiction.
March 6th 1857



No. 7.
Dred Scott - Plff in Er
vs
John F. A. Sandford

In error to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Missouri.

This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Missouri and was argued by counsel - on consideration whereof, it is now here ordered and adjudged by this court that the judgment of the said Circuit Court in this cause be and the same is hereby reversed for the want of jurisdiction in that court, and that this cause be and the same is hereby remanded to the said Circuit Court with directions to dismiss the case for the want of jurisdiction in that court.

Js. W. Ch. Mr. Taney
6th March 1857
This primary source comes from the Records of the Supreme Court of the United States.
National Archives Identifier: 301674
Full Citation: Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford; 3/6/1857; Dred Scott, Plaintiff in Error, v. John F. A. Sandford; Appellate Jurisdiction Case Files, 1792 - 2010; Records of the Supreme Court of the United States, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/dred-scott-judgment, November 21, 2017]


Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford

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Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F. A. Sandford

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Document

Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln

ca. 1860-1865

Shortly after being elected the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln faced a divided nation. The Civil War lasted almost his entire Presidency. Just weeks into his second term as President, Lincoln was assassinated while watching a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer.
National Archives Identifier: 530413
Full Citation: Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln; ca. 1860-1865 ; Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes, 1921 - 1940; Records of the Office of the Chief Signal Officer, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/photograph-of-president-abraham-lincoln, November 21, 2017]


Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln

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Document

Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

12/1860

This document outlines the stated reasons why the South Carolina state government separated from the United States of America, including the accusation that the Federal Government violated the U.S. Constitution and encroached upon the reserved rights of the States.
This primary source comes from the War Department Collection of Confederate Records.
National Archives Identifier: 3863809
Full Citation: Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union; 12/1860; War Department Collection of Confederate Records, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/declaration-of-immediate-causes-which-induce-and-justify-the-secession-of-south-carolina-from-the-federal-union, November 21, 2017]


Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Declaration of Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union

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Document

Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery

3/2/1861

As southern states began seceding during the winter of 1860–61, several compromises were proposed to hold the nation together. One was a constitutional amendment that would have prevented Congress from passing legislation interfering with a state’s “domestic institutions . . . including that of persons held to labor or service.” Amendment sponsors hoped its approval would keep border states in the Union and reassure southerners that Republicans opposed only the extension, not the existence, of slavery. Congress approved the amendment, but only two state legislatures ratified it."
This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 4688370
Full Citation: Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery; 3/2/1861; General Records of the United States Government, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/proposed-thirteenth-amendment-regarding-the-abolition-of-slavery, November 21, 2017]


Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery

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Document

Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E

10/1862

This primary source comes from the Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers.
National Archives Identifier: 305578
Full Citation: Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E; 10/1862; Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/map-of-the-battle-of-the-antietam-fought-on-the-16th-and-17th-september-1862-between-the-united-states-forces-under-the-command-of-maj-genl-geo-b-mcclellan-and-the-confederates-under-genl-robt-e-lee, November 21, 2017]


Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E

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Map of the Battle of the Antietam fought on the 16th and 17th September 1862 between the United States Forces under the Command of Maj. Genl. Geo. B. McClellan and the Confederates under Genl. Robt. E

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Document

Emancipation Proclamation

1/1/1863

While the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it fundamentally transformed the character of the Civil War. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the liberated themselves became liberators, for the proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union army and navy. By the end of the war, nearly 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to slavery’s final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom. Read more in "The Meaning and Making of Emancipation," a free eBook that presents the Emancipation Proclamation in its social and political context with documents in the National Archives' holdings that illustrate the efforts of the many Americans, enslaved and free, white and black, by whom slavery was abolished in the United States.

Transcript

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 299998
Full Citation: Emancipation Proclamation; 1/1/1863; Presidential Proclamations, 1791 - 2011; General Records of the United States Government, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/emancipation-proclamation, November 21, 2017]


Emancipation Proclamation

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Emancipation Proclamation

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Emancipation Proclamation

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Emancipation Proclamation

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Emancipation Proclamation

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Document

Photograph of United States Colored Troops at Port Hudson, Louisiana

1864

Tens of thousands of freedmen and runaway slaves served in the regiments of the United States Colored Troops and other state units. The men in this photograph, taken in 1864, were probably members of one of these units, the Corps d’Afrique. The Corps was organized in 1863 from men who served in Union General Benjamin Butler’s Louisiana Native Guard regiments.
This primary source comes from the Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs.
National Archives Identifier: 594179
Full Citation: Photograph of United States Colored Troops at Port Hudson, Louisiana; 1864; Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/photograph-of-united-states-colored-troops-at-port-hudson-louisiana, November 21, 2017]


Photograph of United States Colored Troops at Port Hudson, Louisiana

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Document

Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

1/31/1865

This is a draft of a joint resolution proposing the thirteenth amendment to the United States Constitution that started in the Senate. A joint resolution is a formal opinion adopted by both houses of the legislative branch. A constitutional amendment must be passed as a joint resolution before it is sent to the states for ratification. This particular resolution became the 13th Amendment, ending slavery in the United States in 1865.

Transcript

Thirty-Eighth Congress of the United States
At the Second Session
Begun and held at the City of Washington, on Monday, the fifth day of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four

A Resolution
Submitting to the legislatures of the several States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
(two-thirds of both houses concurring), that the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several states as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures shall be
valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, namely: Article XIII. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.  Section 2.  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Schuyler Colfax
Speaker of the House of Representatives

Hannibal Hamlin
Vice President of the United States
and President of the Senate

Approved February 1, 1865                                                             Abraham Lincoln
This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 1408764
Full Citation: Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; 1/31/1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789 - 2011; General Records of the United States Government, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/thirteenth-amendment, November 21, 2017]


Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Document

Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

6/13/1866

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was written in 1865 and proposed to the states for ratification. This amendment guarantees rights of citizenship, due process, and equal protection under the law to all citizens. It was ratified in 1868. A joint resolution is a formal opinion adopted by both houses of the legislative branch. A constitutional amendment must be passed as a joint resolution before it is sent to the states for ratification.

Text adapted from “Eight Key Documents on Civil Rights” in the November/December 1978 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) publication Social Education.

Transcript

Article XIV

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the
number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 1408913
Full Citation: Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; 6/13/1866; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789 - 2011; General Records of the United States Government, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/fourteenth-amendment, November 21, 2017]


Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Document

Joint Resolution Proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

2/26/1869

On February 26, 1869, Congress passed this resolution promising that the right of male U.S. citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” A joint resolution is a formal opinion adopted by both houses of the legislative branch. A constitutional amendment must be passed as a joint resolution before it is sent to the states for ratification.

By February 3, 1870, three-quarters of the states ratified the 15th Amendment. While a great victory for black men, women were excluded. Furthermore, full delivery of the promise was postponed as some states took steps to limit or deny black men their constitutional right to vote.

Transcript

Fortieth Congress of the United States of America;

At the third Session, Begun and held at the city of Washington, on Monday, the seventh day of December, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.

A Resolution

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Respresentatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two-thirds of both Houses concurring) that the following article be proposed to the legislature of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which, when ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures shall be valid as part of the Constitution, namely:

Article XV.
Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude—
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Schuyler Colfax
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
B.F. Wade
President of the Senate pro tempore.
Attent.
ED McPherson
Clerk of House of Representatives.
Geo. C. Gorham
Secy of Senate U.S.
This primary source comes from the General Records of the United States Government.
National Archives Identifier: 299797
Full Citation: Joint Resolution Proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; 2/26/1869; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789 - 2011; General Records of the United States Government, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/fifteenth-amendment, November 21, 2017]


Joint Resolution Proposing the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Document

Sumner Civil Rights Bill

12/1/1873

This primary source comes from the Records of the U.S. House of Representatives.
National Archives Identifier: 1986640
Full Citation: Sumner Civil Rights Bill; 12/1/1873; Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/sumner-civil-rights-bill, November 21, 2017]


Sumner Civil Rights Bill

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Sumner Civil Rights Bill

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Sumner Civil Rights Bill

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