G CS 09

Basic Principles of the U.S. Constitution

Principles related to representative democracy are reflected in the articles and amendments of the U.S. Constitution and provide structure for the government of the United States.

Content Statement

9. The Reconstruction Era prompted Amendments 13 through 15 to address the aftermath of slavery and the Civil War.

Content Elaborations

The conflict over slavery was a primary cause of the American Civil War. As the war came to a close, plans to “reconstruct” the rebellious states were instituted. The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery, was not part of President Lincoln’s original plan to readmit former Confederate states to Congress. Ratification of the 13th Amendment became a requirement under President Johnson’s Reconstruction plan.

Once Southern state efforts to curtail the rights of freedmen became known, two further amendments were proposed. Ratification of these amendments became a requirement under the congressional plan of Reconstruction.

The 14th Amendment defined what persons were citizens of the United States and offered protection from state infringements on citizens’ rights. It also revised the means for determining representation in the House of Representatives and included punishments for former Confederates and their states. The 15th Amendment extended the right to vote to citizens regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Expectations for Learning

Summarize how the 13th through the 15th Amendments addressed the aftermath of slavery and the Civil War.