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Civil Rights in the Shadow of SlaveryThe Constitution, Common Law, and the Civil Rights Act of 1866$
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George A. Rutherglen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199739707

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739707.001.0001

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The Birth of Civil Rights

The Birth of Civil Rights

The Circumstances, Acts, and Legacy of the 39th Congress

Chapter:
(p.2) (p.3) 1 The Birth of Civil Rights
Source:
Civil Rights in the Shadow of Slavery
Author(s):

George Rutherglen

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199739707.003.0001

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

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