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Analysis of American Reconstruction and the 14th Amendment

Legal scholar Gene Healy has made a powerful argument in favor of abolishing the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. When a fair vote was taken on it in 1865, in the aftermath of the War for Southern Independence, it was rejected by the Southern states and all the border states. Failing to secure the necessary three-fourths of the states, the Republican party, which controlled Congress, passed the Reconstruction Act of 1867 which placed the entire South under military rule.

The purpose of this, according to one Republican congressman, was to coerce Southern legislators to vote for the amendment пÑ--Ð the point of a bayonet.пÑ--Ð... President Andrew Johnson called this tactic пÑ--Ð...absolute despotism,пÑ--Ð... the likes of which had not been exercised by any British monarch пÑ--Ð...for more than 500 years.пÑ--Ð... For his outspokenness Johnson was impeached by the Republican Congress.

The South eventually voted to ratify the amendment, after which two Northern statesпÑ--Ð...Ohio and New JerseyпÑ--Ð...withdrew support because of their disgust with Republican party tyranny. The Republicans just ignored this and declared the amendment valid despite their failure to secure the constitutionally-required three-fourths majority.

The Cato InstituteпÑ--Ð...s Roger Pilon, who is a supporter of the Fourteenth Amendment, has defended the way in which the amendment was adopted on the grounds that after the war some Southern states had enacted the пÑ--Ð...notorious Black CodesпÑ--Ð... (Liberty Magazine, Feb. 2000).

пÑ--Ð...What should Congress have done,пÑ--Ð... Pilon asked, пÑ--Ð...turn a blind eye to what was going on?пÑ--Ð... The notion that a racially-enlightened and benevolent Republican Congress unconstitutionally imposed the Fourteenth Amendment on the nation because it was motivated primarily (if not solely) out of concern with racial discrimination in the South is childishly naive and ahistorical. The fact is, Northern states pioneered viciously discriminatory пÑ--Ð codesпÑ--Ð... long before they existed in any Southern state, and these codes were supported by many of the same Northern politicians who voted for the Fourteenth Amendment.

The Revised Code of Indiana stated in 1862 that пÑ--Ð...Negroes and mulattos are not allowed to come into the stateпÑ--Ð...; forbade the consummation of legal contracts with пÑ--Ð...Negroes and mulattosпÑ--Ð...; imposed a $500 fine on anyone who employed a black person; forbade interracial marriage; and forbade blacks from testifying in court against white persons.

IllinoisпÑ--Ð...the пÑ--Ð of LincolnпÑ--Ð...пÑ--Ð...added almost identical restrictions in 1848, as did Oregon in 1857. Most Northern states in the 1860s did not permit immigration by blacks or, if they did, required them to post a $1,000 bond that would be confiscated if they behaved пÑ--Ð...improperly.пÑ--Ð...

Senator Lyman Trimball of Illinois, a close confidant of LincolnпÑ--Ð...s, stated that пÑ--Ð...our people want nothing to do with the NegroпÑ--Ð... and was a strong supporter of IllinoisпÑ--Ð... пÑ--Ð codes.пÑ--Ð... Northern newspapers were often just as racist as the Northern black codes were. The Philadelphia Daily News editorialized on November 22, 1860, that пÑ--Ð...the African is naturally the inferior race.пÑ--Ð... The Daily Chicago Times wrote



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