CONSTITUTIONAL REDEFINITION AND NATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION
The Fourteenth Amendment restructured the nation in a way that radically realigned state and federal powers and redistributed their respective interests. As formulated in 1868, the Constitution implemented a new model of governance for the union that supplanted the plan of 1787. In its virgin state, the Constitution anticipated a federal government with limited powers specifically allocated to it by the document itself. The Fourteenth Amendment's assignment of enforcement power to Congress did not deviate from that premise. By vesting the federal government with paramount responsibility for managing and protecting basic civil rights, however, the amendment effected a transfer of power and interest previously reserved to the states.
The Bill of Rights, which resolved the conflict between Federalist and anti-Federalist agendas when the Constitution was being debated for purposes of ratification, evidenced an initial sense that centralized national authority presented the paramount risk to personal freedom. The itemization of specific guarantees in the first eight amendments, and reservation of unenumerated rights and powers respectively to the people and the states by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, reflected the deep concern with the potential perils of centralized authority. The unhappy experience with slavery compounded by Southern resistance to reconstruction demonstrated that the federal government was not the sole threat to individual rights and liberties. The Fourteenth Amendment responded to post-slav