Chapter

The Birth of Civil Rights

George Rutherglen

in Civil Rights in the Shadow of Slavery

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199739707
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979363 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739707.003.0001
The Birth of Civil Rights

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The The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed in the chaotic aftermath of the Civil War, addressing the pressing question of the status of the newly freed slaves—one that had not been resolved for all the bloodshed and devastation of the war. The Thirteenth Amendment also left this question unresolved, deferring to Congress by conferring on it the power to enforce the amendment “by appropriate legislation.” The 1866 Act was the first exercise of this power and it rapidly led to profound constitutional changes, the most important of which was the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. The act was then reenacted, and over the decades, it has continued to receive judicial and legislative attention. This chapter offers a synopsis of this history and the act's continuing influence.

Keywords: enactment; Thirteenth Amendment; Fourteenth Amendment; enforcement; status; citizenship

Chapter.  6551 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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