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Freedom from the Constitution and Reconstruction Eras

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The Constitution and Reconstruction eras allow for the expansion of freedom, but with some limitations. Freedom is now considered more of a right for everyone, as opposed to before these time periods it was something only white males had. The Constitution era was a time of change that led to freedom and rights for more than just white men, but could not give these privileges to everyone. The Reconstruction era came after the Constitution era and gave freedom to slaves, although that did not change much.

A revolutionary part of the Constitution era was the Constitution itself. The Constitution has lasted for over two hundred years and is still the document founding America to this day. One huge part of freedom came from the Constitution’s first amendment stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”. This is something that is taken much for granted in present time. Freedom to say what you want with nearly no consequences was considered a right by many people, although it took a bit for everyone, no matter your race or ethnicity, to be able to enjoy this freedom. This is just one of the many new freedoms the Constitution gave directly, but the Constitution was considered a growing document in the sense that as times changed the Constitution would be able to change with it. An example of this is the Obergefell v. Hodges court case in 2015. This case was a landmark case that decided that the Constitution supported same sex marriage. The final result of the court was that “The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity”. The legacy of the Constitution is what allowed for this to happen and gives freedom of expression that came much after the Constitution was ratified.

Before and during the Constitution era, slavery played an enormous role in society, especially in the south. Northerners began to realize how wrong slavery was and how it was unconstitutional. The solution the Constitution came up with was the ⅗ Compromise. It said only “three fifths of all other persons”, meaning slaves, would be counted as people in terms of population. Southerners did not like this change because slavery was an essential part to their agricultural economy and taking it away would be corrupting. The north and the south continued to argue about this issue and eventually this led to the Civil War. Some founding fathers explain in the Anti-Federalist Papers that it would be impossible to “do away all idea of confederate states”, which is basically saying that there will always be states that are pro-slavery. After the union won the war, discrimination towards people of color was not completely eliminated.

The Reconstruction Era was a key factor to the eventual freedom of slavery. This time period was the reason today that people of color are considered equal to whites. On June 13, 1866 congress passed Amendment 13 declaring, “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”. This amendment’s goal was to rid the United States of slavery and it did. Amendment 14, passed by Congress on February 26, 1869, helped to imply the claims of the 13th Amendment on a state level. The 14th Amendment tells states that they can not “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”, which included people of color. This amendment gave security by the US government to people of color, something that was new to them. These amendments were seen in effect in 1872 in a photo



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