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Reconstruction Amendments

During Reconstruction, three amendments to the Constitution were made in an effort to establish equality for black Americans.

The Thirteenth Amendment, adopted in 1865, abolishes slavery or involuntary servitude except in punishment for a crime. The Fourteenth Amendment, adopted in 1868, defines all people born in the United States as citizens, requires due process of law, and requires equal protection to all people. The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, prevents the denial of a citizen’s vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Historian Risa Goluboff explains the thirteenth, fourteenth & fifteenth amendments (also known as the Reconstruction Amendments).

Reconstruction Amendments video

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