Introduction xiii
Congress to reduce the representation of states
that disenfranchised African-American men (an
option it never exercised), to disqualify individuals
who had led the insurrection against the United
States from voting, to affi rm Union obligations
while repudiating Confederate debt, and to vest
Congress with special enforcement powers.
Still, most of the rights that Section 1 of the
Fourteenth Amendment articulated would lie in
near abeyance for almost a century, but at least on
paper the amendment guaranteed the privileges
and immunities of U.S. citizenship, due process of
law, and the equal protection of laws to all. By the
end of the century, each of these guarantees had
been trimmed. Th e Slaughterhouse Cases decided
that the privileges and immunities of U.S. citizen-
ship (as opposed to whatever rights states might
choose to protect) were limited, and Minor v. Hap-
persett decided (to the chagrin but hardly to the
surprise of most women) that one of these rights
and immunities was not the right to woman’s suf-
frage. In the period immediately following that
covered in this volume, the Court subsequently
invalidated the Civil Rights Act of 1875 in the Civil
Rights Cases of 1883 by limiting state control over
discrimination in public accommodations to those
involving state, rather than private, action. United
States v. Cruikshank (1876) further extended this
state action doctrine in a way that made it diffi cult
to punish those who engaged in physical intimida-
tion of African Americans, and Plessy v. Ferguson
(1896) further lent its approval to racial segregation.
After Ulysses S. Grant, who would serve two
terms, replaced Andrew Johnson as president in the
election of 1868, the nation did adopt the Fifteenth
Amendment (1870) prohibiting discrimination, at
least on paper, on the basis of race or previous con-
dition of servitude. Because the Constitution still
did not make voting a positive right, states were
able to evade this provision for almost a hundred
years before the Voting Rights Act of 1965 fi nally
gave it some teeth. By contrast, although women
would have to wait longer than African-American
men for formal constitutional protection, when
they fi nally received the vote with the adoption of
the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, they faced
almost no obstacles to casting their ballots.
Back to the Centennial
In 1876, the nation’s population and size had
increased but still bore the deep scars, and the
bitter resentments, of war. Native-American Indi-
ans, who remained excluded from the guaran-
tees of citizenship recognized in the Fourteenth
Amendment, continued their sad retreat across the
plains. Th eir victory over General Custer at Little
Big Horn in 1876 was an anomaly, not quite a last
stand, hardly a sign that they were about to retake
their former lands.
Looking back over the Civil War, the Supreme
Court had declared in Texas v. White (1869) that
the Constitution had created “an indestructible
Union . . . of indestructible states.” Although the
postbellum amendments had hardly resolved all
issues of state/national relations, the war had ulti-
mately settled the issue of slavery, which had pro-
vided the greatest bone of contention between the
nation’s two major sections.
Within 30 years, the nation would gain a colo-
nial empire in a war with Spain; within 50 years,
the nation would participate in a major world war;
and within 80 years, it would become the world’s
greatest super power. Th e sense of nationhood had
been further forged in the fi res of war, but the scars
of this confl ict, and particularly the divergent racial
heritage that had spawned it, would continue to
bedevil the nation even as it ascended to heights
of world glory.
Notes on Th is Volume
Although this book was written as a stand-alone
volume, I very much view it as a continuation of
three previous volumes in this series. Th e fi rst,
dealing with Founding Documents, explains
the foundations of America’s constitutional leg-
acy. Th e second, dealing with Th e Early Republic,
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