No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment

By James E. Bond | Go to book overview

13
The Imagined Future of the Fourteenth Amendment

The Warren Court "imagined the past and remembered the future."

-- Alexander Bickel, critiquing the Court's attempt to construct the "Egalitarian Society"

People in the Southern states subjected the Fourteenth Amendment to unprecedented scrutiny. They studied it in committees, debated it in legislative chambers, discussed it around dinner tables, and wrangled over it during one political campaign after another. They dissected it section by section, clause by clause. They questioned the intentions of those who framed it, explored the implications that might be drawn from its language, and pondered the consequences that would follow its adoption. No other amendment has ever been examined so carefully or thoroughly at the state level.

The internal legislative history includes eight committee reports from five states, eleven messages from ten governors, and numerous newspaper accounts of various state legislative debates. The external legislative history is even more extensive, including, as it does, the historical context within which the amendment was first promulgated, then considered, and later implemented. That context thus begins with the South's adoption of the infamous Black Codes and ends with the actions of the "reconstructed" legislatures on issues involving the rights of black Americans. Between those two periods, the Southern states were required to enfranchise blacks and draft new constitutions, and the resulting election campaigns and convention deliberations also constitute an important part of the amendment's external legislative history. No other amendment has ever been ratified amidst such political turbulence, economic chaos, and social upheaval; and this dynamic context produced a complex but illuminating history of extraordinary richness.

-251-

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No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - The Remembered Past of the Fourteenth Amendment 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - Ratification in Tennessee 15
  • Notes 26
  • 3 - Ratification in Mississippi 33
  • Notes 47
  • 4 - Ratification in North Carolina 53
  • Notes 65
  • 5 - Ratification in Louisiana 75
  • Notes 95
  • 6 - Ratification in Alabama 101
  • Notes 114
  • 7 - Ratification in South Carolina 121
  • Notes 137
  • 8 - Ratification in Virginia 143
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - Ratification in Florida 169
  • Notes 183
  • 10 - Ratification in Arkansas 189
  • Notes 205
  • 11 - Ratification in Texas 211
  • Notes 225
  • 12 - Ratification in Georgia 231
  • Notes 245
  • 13 - The Imagined Future of the Fourteenth Amendment 251
  • Notes 272
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 289
  • About the Author 297
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