The Fourteenth Amendment

the Fourteenth Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment

gave a new sense of hope and inspiration to a once oppressed people. It was conceived to be the

foundation for restoring America to its great status and prosperity. The Amendment allowed

“equal protection under the law”, no matter what race, religion, sex, sexual preference or social

status. It was designed to protect the newly freed slaves. However, it only helped the white race.

Congress passed the Fourteenth Amendment not knowing how it would affect all the other

minorities. Minorities were still treated with disrespect and incivility from the white culture.

With Americans pioneering westward, they found a strong-willed people with a simple way of life, the Indians. The conquering American pioneers tried to push their way of life

upon the Indians. They directed what the Indians should do, what to eat, and whom or what they should believe in. With the Indians refusing this way of life, and the ensuing battles over their land, put up an immensely hard fought battle against the United States Military led by General Custer. General Custer was facing a leader, a holy man, and an impressive war chief who the Indians had great respect for, Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull vowed to eliminate the American invaders, but came to his demise with a shot to the chest and slash to the back of the head by a Ceska Maza, killing him instantly. The Americans eventually won and pushed the Indians onto convenient reservations, depriving them of their rights, and discarding the idea of equal protection under the law.

For the greater part of the nineteenth century, black people were slaves for white men. The Fourteenth Amendment was placed into effect to protect the rights of the black community after emancipation. It stated that, “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” would be supported under the doctrine. However, this article failed to uphold the rights of the newly freed slaves. The blacks, ridiculed and scorned by the public, were greatly suppressed by the white backlash. The states put into effect laws that would suppress the blacks even further, even though they were protected under the Amendment. The states made stipulations on rights the African Americans were granted, like the right to own land, vote, and even hold certain jobs. Voting was a major controversy for the newly freed slaves, they wanted the chance to be heard through politics. Nevertheless, they were still denied the simple right to vote in many of the states if they could not meet the prerequisites for reading or could not pay a voting tax. They made contracts for them to work for white men, just as if they were slaves and nothing changed. Black people were still waiting for their salvation under this new piece of legislation, but were unable to grasp it through the government. African Americans stood for their newly given rights under the Constitution and were denied by the people who put this piece of legislation into effect.

With the Indians nearly silenced and African Americans suppressed by common attitudes and legislation, women still worked for their own rights. Women during this time were considered second-class citizens, a class striving for equality in eyes of American men. Women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Stanton opposed the amendment since women were not recognized as equals, and not given the right to vote. Women who were scholars, educated people, were not given the opportunity to vote, but the newly freed slaves would be given the chance to vote for the first time under the amendment. Women were homemakers and not thought as people who would be a great influence in the political arena. Women continued their struggle in the hopes that they would be given the opportunity to hold an office or cast a ballad, for until women were held at a higher standard, they could not be considered equals, even under the law.

The Fourteenth Amendment, written in the hopes of equality for black citizens, promised equal protection under the law and the right to vote to emancipated southern blacks. Equality under the law for American Indians and women was not possible while they were considered second-class citizens and not afforded the right to vote or hold office. With the best of intentions, politicians passed this progressive legislation, but failed to follow through by including all minorities and ensuring that its regulations enforced.

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