Between Slavery and Freedom: Philosophy and American Slavery

By Howard McGary; Bill E. Lawson | Go to book overview

Four.
Citizenship and Slavery

BILL LAWSON

ONE OF THE MOST important events of Reconstruction was the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.1 Section One of this Amendment states:

all persons born or naturalized and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are
citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state
shall make or enforce any laws which shall abridge the privileges or im-
munities of citizens of the United States: nor shall any state deprive any
person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny
to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.2

The importance of this amendment for the political standing of blacks was cited by Senator Lot M. Morrill of Maine during debate in the Senate on the legislation:

If there is anything with which the American people are troubled, and if
there is anything with which the American statesman is perplexed and
vexed, it is what to do with the negro, how to define him, what he is in
American Law, and what rights he is entitled to. What shall we do with
the everlasting, inevitable negro? is the question which puzzles all brains
and vexes all statesmen. Now, as a definition, this amendment [to Section
I which establishes the citizenship of the native of African descent] settles
it. Hitherto we have said that he was nondescript in our statutes; he had
no status; he was ubiquitous; he was both man and thing; he was three
fifths of a person for representation and he was a thing for commerce and

-55-

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Between Slavery and Freedom: Philosophy and American Slavery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Blacks in the Diaspora ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Philosophy and American Slavery - An Introduction xvii
  • One - Oppression and Slavery 1
  • Two - Paternalism and Slavery 16
  • Three - Resistance and Slavery 35
  • Four - Citizenship and Slavery 55
  • Five - Moral Discourse and Slavery 71
  • Six - Forgiveness and Slavery 90
  • Notes 113
  • Bibliography 129
  • Index 140
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