American History Series: The Fourteenth Amendment

I’m really enjoying Eric Foner’s new book.

This is probably the best book he has ever written.

The following excerpt comes from Eric Foner’s The Second Founding: How The Civil War And Reconstruction Remade The Constitution:

“Howard’s mention of the Bill of Rights highlighted the dramatic change in the federal system brought about by the Reconstruction amendments. The Bill of Rights had been designed to restrict the actions of Congress, not the states. Chief Justice John Marshall stated this unequivocally in the case of Barron v. Baltimore (1833): “these amendments demanded security against the apprehended encroachments of the general government – not against those of the local governments.” In legal terminology, Howard was described the “incorporation” of the Bill of Rights – that is requiring states to abide by its provisions – a process that has been going on for much of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.”

As we previously noted, The First Founding and the Bill of Rights restricted the power of the federal government. The Tenth Amendment reserved all powers not explicitly granted to the federal government to the states. During the White Republic, there was no uniform definition of federal citizenship, no such thing as birthright citizenship and above all else there was no liberal state that had the power to enforce equal rights. Liberals appealed to the rhetoric of the Declaration of Independence.

“Thus, the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied not only to racial discrimination but to any state actions that deprived citizens of essential rights such as freedom of speech and the press, which many Republicans pointed out had long been abridged in the South. Before the war, for example, southern states adopted laws making criticism of slavery a crime without violating the First Amendment since these were state laws and not acts of Congress.”

The First Founding gave the sovereign states vast powers and enormous room to preserve illiberal institutions. It used to be a crime in the South to criticize slavery and to promote miscegenation. The Southern social order was based on patriarchy and paternalism.

“The Fourteenth Amendment for the first time elevates equality to a constitutional right of all Americans. It makes the Constitution a vehicle through which aggrieved groups and individuals who believe that they are being denied equality can take their claims to court.”

“Equality” wasn’t a part of the Constitution until the 14th Amendment except in the sense that each state had an equal number of senators and the possibility of a tie in the electoral college in a presidential election.

“As one historian has written, the Fourteenth Amendment’s first section set in motion a process whereby rights became attributes of a national citizenship rather than a welter of local statutes, traditional practices, and common law traditions, all of them grounded in inequality.”

David French would have us believe that this all goes back to “the American Founding.” Actually, it goes back to Reconstruction when it was forced on the South at gunpoint.

There were vociferous objections to the Fourteenth Amendment at the time:

“With equal persistence, Democrats contended that the amendment would destroy traditions of local self-rule and “invest all power in the national government. …”

“Democrats claimed that the bill’s “logical conclusion” was black suffrage, integrated public schools, interracial marriage, and complete “political” and “social” equality – a charge Republicans vociferously denied …”

“Debates over the Thirteenth Amendment and Civil Rights Act had already made clear that most Republican members of Congress did not see emancipation and the principle of legal equality as erasing the patriarchal rights of men, including black men, within their families …”

As Eric Foner notes, the Reconstruction Amendments and federal civil rights legislation did all these things and much more by empowering the federal government to enforce the nebulous concept of “equal rights” and by depriving the states of their traditional powers. No one at the time anticipated how the Fourteenth Amendment could be stretched to legitimize sodomy, miscegenation, gay marriage and transgenderism. Every criticism that was lodged against it at the time ultimately came true.

This was also true of the Brown decision in the 1950s. The critics of the Brown decision denied the existence of racial equality. They denied that integrated schools would accomplish the goal of eliminating the racial gap in academic performance by eliminating racial discrimination. 65 years later, the critics of Brown have been utterly vindicated. And yet, Brown has become sacrosanct even though it never worked. How much money has been squandered on rebuilding entire metro areas to escape integration?

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  1. The 14th amendment is when we ALL became slaves, and the White House became the ONLY plantation house. Dumb Ass AmNat’s need to get that through their ignorant heads. Imagine not knowing shit about the feds history and therefor blindly supporting and even voting in their faux elections. SUCKERS.

  2. It seems to me that the 14th was a partisan political move on the part of the black republicans, and it worked for almost a century.

      • R.L. Dabney was one of the first, if not the first, to see in the Fourteenth’s provisions the opportunity to deny the black vote via certain classes of Southern Whites to vote within their own states to effectively disenfranchise themselves for the greater good of the whole of their societies without their states incurring the penalty of losing representatives in Congress. He lays out a good case for this strategy *somewhere* but I can’t remember under which of his essays this is to be found at this very moment. I’ll see if I can track it down.

        In any case, and as someone else has already pointed out, the so called “one man, one vote” “Universal Franchise” is the most idiotic, self-destructive idea that ever came down the pike. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re not a married man and net taxpayer (which is to say, someone who pays more in taxes than he receives in benefits), these facts alone should disqualify you to vote in national and state elections, and probably the local elections as well. …

        • Here we go:

          Is there any remedy? This is the question which will be urged, and those who think with me are listened to with disfavor, chiefly because people do not like to be reminded of a shameful and miserable future, which they suppose to be unavoidable; they prefer to shut their eyes and enjoy the remnants of pleasures which are left them, without disturbance. We shall be asked: Why speak of these things, unless there can be shown a remedy?

          There might be a remedy, if the people and their leaders were single-minded and honest in their action as citizens. The key-note of that remedy is in “impartial suffrage.” In endeavoring to remedy the dangers of the commonwealth, we must remember that we are a conquered people, and have to obey our masters. Otherwise our straight road back to safety would be at once to repeal negro-suffrage. But our masters will not hear of that. What is called “impartial suffrage” is, however, permitted by their new Constitution. We should at once avail ourselves of that permission, and without attempting any discrimination on grounds of “race, color, or previous condition of bondage,” establish qualifications both of property and intelligence for the privilege of voting.

          This would exclude the great multitude of negroes, and also a great many white men. And this last would of itself be no little gain, for many more white men have the privilege than use it for the good of the State. Again, the very misfortunes of the time give us this advantage now, for drawing back from the ultraradicalism of our previous legislation: that the mass of white men are now so impressed with the dishonor and mischiefs of negro suffrage, the majority of those white voters having no property, would, even joyfully, surrender their privilege, tarnished and worthless as it is, if thereby the negro could be excluded. This constitutes our opportunity.

          To this saving reform there is just one real obstacle, and that is, the timid self-interest of the office-seeking class. I take it for granted that every sensible man in Virginia thinks in his heart that negro suffrage is a deplorable mistake. But many wish to be elected or appointed to office. These begin to calculate, under the promptings of timid selfishness: “While I should be very glad to see this wholesome reform, it will not be prudent for me to advocate it; because, should a movement for it, advocated by me, perchance fail, then all the classes whom that movement proposed to disfranchise of this useless and hurtful privilege, will be offended with me. So, when self-love desires to be elected to some place of emolument, they will remember me and vote against me. Hence, I cannot move in that reform, however desirable.”

          This is the real difficulty, and the only real difficulty, in the way of this blessed step towards salvation. If all the men who now cherish aspirations for office, could only be made to act disinterestedly—to forget self, to resolve to do the right and wise thing for the Commonwealth, whether they were ever voted for again or not, the whole thing would be easy.

          There are a plenty of intelligent young men in Virginia, now without property, who would joyfully join the freeholders in voting to disfranchise themselves for this great end, to make a commanding majority. So that the question, whether the State can be saved from this perdition, turns practically on this other question (as indeed the fate of Commonwealths always practically does), whether her people can for once act with a real honest disinterestedness.

          If the people and their leaders are capable of that, they can save themselves; if not capable, nothing can save them. And perhaps the verdict of posterity will be, that they were unworthy of being saved. It will be well for all to look this view of the matter fully in the face. Especially is it necessary for the farmers to see precisely where the deliverance and the obstacle to it lie.

          – R. L. Dabney, The Negro and the Common School

  3. Immediately following the civil war blacks should have either been forcibly sent back to Africa or given a section of land in the deep south like Louisiana or Mississippi. Unfortunately none of that happened and to this day we continue to support the negros and we import on average of 1.1 million Hispanics, Africans, middle easterners, and Asians(mostly Indian and Chinese) ever single year! As soon as the gibs run out we are in for some very interesting times.

  4. Allowing illiterates to vote is insanity, which includes most blacks. It negates the value and concept of an intelligent electorate.

  5. The 14th Amendment was never ratified by three-fourth of all the States in the union according to Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution. Out of 37 States, 16 had rejected it.

    The 14th Amendment did not change the U.S Constitution but rather created another constitution which legally has nothing to do with the U. S. Constitution.

    It became the foundation for a new government or “jurisdiction” which attempts to operate under the guise of
    “The United States.”

    Thus, blacks never became citizens under the U.S. Constitution but rather became subjects under the 14th

    Every court case that has accorded the Negro any rights or privileges as a “citizen,” has always done so via
    the 14th Amendment, and never under the original Constitution by itself.

    The 14th Amendment thus had no direct legal affect on the State’s sovereign powers. State laws that recognized
    white sovereignty and the segregation of Negroes via “Jim Crow” laws were upheld by courts as not violating the 14th

    Laws requiring the separation of the white and colored races in railway coaches were upheld, laws
    prohibiting Negroes from marrying whites were upheld,” laws prohibiting colored persons from attending the same
    schools as whites were upheld.

  6. I hope you have heard of the Incorporation Doctrine. Read Raoul Berger’s Government by Judiciary. The Fourteenth Amendment did not originally supersede the Tenth Amendment. It was misshapen to by liberal judges in the 20th century.

  7. In hindsight it was inevitable that the American Republic would eventually become an Empire that would collapse under the weight of its own hubris. I think the Founders saw this as well.

    • Which is why they left us tools to over throw the tyranny. Too bad those tools are primitive by today’s standards. America the bloated has a long death in front of her.

  8. Hi hunter, i think also that in the context of the North, the european immigration conditioned the formation of the Fourtheen amendment, in which gave americans the birthright citzenship… The war efforts needed of strong patriotic fervor within the populance in a diverse country in the North, You can see the component of the union army that 25% of the population had forigen origins… Obviously, all the copntext of the amendment was based in the rights of ex-slaves, but the reason for the configurtation of the birthright citzenship we can trace it to a combination between the war effort and the diverse population of the North and Midwest,..

    I can tell for family connections… My great great great granfather fought in the union side drafted for Illinois (he was a corn farmer)

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