45 pages 1 hour read

James M. Mcpherson

Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution

Nonfiction | Biography | Adult | Published in 1983

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Index of Terms

13th Amendment

The 13th Amendment, passed under Lincoln in 1865, abolished slavery in the United States. After issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on New Year’s Day 1863, Lincoln “threw his weight behind the Thirteenth Amendment” (34) to push it through Senate and the House. Perhaps the single most important amendment for social revolution in America, it also helped secure Union victory in the Civil War.

14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment, passed in 1868 after Lincoln’s time in office, granted citizenship to all persons born in the United States, including former slaves. Passed by Congress as “a compromise that granted blacks equal civil rights but not equal voting rights” (5), it also “restrain[ed] the power of the States and compel[led] them at all times to respect these great fundamental guarantees” (141) of liberty for freed slaves, or else face prosecution. As such, this amendment was a necessary constituent of full emancipation.

15th Amendment

The 15th Amendment, passed in 1869, secured voting rights for black Americans, thereby ensuring “the fundamental rights and liberties upon which the whole fabric of free government rests” (150). Suffrage, as Frederick Douglass wrote, is “the keystone of the arch of human liberty” (139), and the passage of the 15th Amendment effectively completed the promise of emancipation, securing the rights of freed slaves and all black Americans to participate in their representational democracy.