AP U.S. History
November 27, 2013
1. Civil Rights Act 1866 (p.158-159)
In response to the Black Codes that were being enacted in Southern state legislatures in 1865-1866, Congress decided to pass the Civil Rights Act in April 1866. The Civil Rights Act declared African Americans as citizens of the United States and gave the federal government power to intervene in state affairs to protect the rights of the citizens. The Civil Rights Act of 1866, accordingly, granted civil rights to all people born in the United States, except Native Americans. The Act also acknowledged that rights would be “enjoyed equally without regard to race,” and in order to maintain the law as true, federal officers would impose fines or imprisonment on anyone who deprived citizens of their rights. Yet, the Act did not grant political rights to freedmen. This Civil Rights Act was the first bill created to define the legal status of the former slaves and it gave the first definition of the rights of American citizenship. It accepted the rights of initiating lawsuits and contracts, giving testimony in court, and obtaining the security of person and property. This Act applied to both the North and the South, who had begun to create discriminatory laws against African Americans. Johnson vetoed it on the basis of a discriminatory argument, in which he said that he doubted blacks could qualify for citizenship and that he believed in the right to discriminate on the basis of race. Both houses of Congress, however, overrode Johnson’s veto and, therefore, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 became a major piece of legislation in American history. His decision over this Act led him to lose all support from the moderate Republicans and showed that any bill he might try to veto would be overridden. The Act also stated that all equality before the law would be protected and enforced by the national government, not the states. Since the Civil Rights Act did not fully assure the Congress of what they wanted, the Act made way for the 14th Amendment, which fully defined citizenship.
2. 14th Amendment (p.159)
The Joint Committee on Reconstruction, in April 1866, proposed the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which gave the first constitutional definition of American citizenship. According to the 14th Amendment, everyone born in the United States or naturalized was a citizen and was entitled to the rights of citizenship, including equal protection from both the state and federal governments. It forbade any state from infringing the rights of citizens without due process of law. The Amendment stated that any state that denied suffrage to its citizens would have penalties imposed on them, such as a decrease of representation in Congress or in the Electoral College. The Amendment also prohibited former members of Congress who had aided the Confederacy during the Civil War from holding state or federal offices until they were pardoned by two-thirds or Congress. The 14th Amendment had to be ratified by the state legislature, according to Congress, in order for a state to be readmitted into the Union. Tennessee was the only state that approved it, while the other states refused it in hopes that the midterm election in 1866 would bring a better resolution for them. However, Congress made ratification of the 14th Amendment a condition for the Southern states to win readmission to the Union. The 14th Amendment also enraged the women who were in search of female suffrage because the Amendment explicitly referred to male suffrage. In response to this amendment, feminists wanting rights for women created the National Women Suffrage Association. The 14th Amendment, ultimately, defined citizenship in a manner that included black males and it assured protection to all citizens from the national government.
3. Tammany Hall (p.175)
Tammany Hall was a New York City political organization that played a major role in controlling its New York politics,