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The complexity of interests, goals, and motivations continued throughout the Reconstruction period after the war.
In his view, the Fourteenth Amendment was only a partial victory for black activists.
There is little surprise then that struggles for equality did not end in 1868.
What did the 15th Amendment add that wasn't in the 14th? One of the most persistent urges of students of American history is to try to decide whether the Civil War was "really" about slavery or about states' rights.
Another contender for the "real" cause of the war has been the regional tensions between an agrarian and an industrial economy, and another contender, the unequal unfolding in various segments of society of the universal implications of the Enlightenment's principle of individual freedom.
Today, the Fourteenth Amendment is under attack by those who see in its terms unwelcome or overtrod paths to belonging, equality, and the dignity of all persons in the United States.
Calls for its repeal or to otherwise radically narrow its interpretation are coming from quarters both refined and popular: at podiums, on placards, in law reviews, via Tweets, and on the op-ed page.
In this roundtable, Christopher Bonner and Andrew Diemer explain the origins of Section 1, which provided generally that all persons born in the United States were citizens of the United States.
With it was swept aside a half century of legal ambiguity that had enshrouded the lives of black Americans, especially former slaves. Grassroots ideas became inscribed in the text of the nation’s highest law.
This was a philosophical expansion of who was included in the "We the People" phrase in the preamble to the Constitution, but the plight of the still-disenfranchised freed slaves in the South increased the urgency of passing the Amendment.
Because the southern states were still occupied federal territory, the freed slaves—for the time being—could be given direct federal protection.