Nation-Building and Constitutional Amendments: The Role of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments in the Legal Reconstitution of the American Polity following the Civil War

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments acted to resolve two major problems of social integration following the Civil War. First, the Fourteenth Amendment transferred ultimate political sovereignty from local states to the national government. Second, slaves were redefined as national citizens and as such legally relocated from a position of property outside the moral universe of civil society, to the status of citizens, a position within civil society. The Fifteenth Amendment, providing the vote, not only provided a means for political participation, but also served ritually to establish membership in the national community. Finally, the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, and actually all three of the Amendments together, provided the core of new political legitimations for a reconstituted and reunited nation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalSociological Perspectives
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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