Through all of the political turmoil, the Reconstruction came with some successful achievements. The 14th Amendment was passed by Congress in June 1866, giving national citizenship for all of the people that were “born or naturalized” in the United States. The states were prohibited from denying civil rights or “equal protection under the law” to citizens. This meant that freed blacks would now be considered citizens. In February 1869, the 15th Amendment was passed by Congress, protecting the right to vote for male citizens, regardless of race, color, or “previous condition of servitude”. In the election of 1870, African American men proudly voted throughout the South (America, 442-446).
Some African American men became involved in politics during this time. Robert Smalls, a former South Carolina slave, was a skilled steamer pilot during the war. After the war, he bought his own land and became a state legislator, then a congressman. Blanche K. Bruce was a former slave from Virginia. He had been educated on the plantation by his white father, but he escaped during the war and started a school for freedmen in Missouri. Years later, Bruce became Mississippi’s second black U.S. senator. During the period of Reconstruction, twenty African American men held state official positions and more than six hundred others were state legislators. Additionally, sixteen African American men held positions in Congress (America, 454).
Charles Sumner, a Radical Republican Senator, first introduced the Civil Rights Act in 1870. It received a lot of opposition for the fear of racial mixing. However, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1875. This gave “full and equal” access to trial by jury, public transportation, and public facilities for all races. Though, they left out the integration of churches and schools (America, 457).
Other achievements were made during the Reconstruction. Property qualifications for voting were eliminated. Married women were allowed to own their own...