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14th Amendment

     Less than a week later, African Americans witnessed a major breakthrough in their own journey toward political representation.  Yet hardly any North Carolinian newspaper was shuddered by the decision, as many failed to extensively report the progress of the nation, let alone mention the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment within the United States Constitution.  Perhaps the potential impeachment of President Johnson had preoccupied most American citizens, but newspapers in the North had not failed to comment.  In the New York newspaper Harper’s Weekly, the amendment was contested on terms of southern disapproval.  The main problem with the amendment was its constitutionality, as southerners objected that “it was suggested by a Congress in which all the States were not represented; that it is destructive of State rights; and that it is humiliating to the people of the unrepresented States.” (Item #2825)  Authors of Harper’s Weekly, however, defended the morality and righteousness of the amendment’s ratification and attacked the humiliation expressed by former rebels by claiming “it is not vindictiveness toward rebels, it is merely justice to loyal men which prescribes this and all other parts of the Amendment.” (Item #2825)  Through extensive research, a reply to neither this northern perspective nor a publication stressing similar criticisms of the amendment could be found.  Instead, the reaction to achieving political recognition in the Union forced most racial issues to take a back seat to the economic and political disparities that faced the state.  The most crucial aspect that most newspapers seemed to account for was the exclusion of ex-Rebels in political service, whether in the state or federal government.  However, this had been assumed following the war.  So why, then, did North Carolina newspapers continue to publicize commonly known facts?  Had African Americans since been concealed in the public’s attention considering the revival of the Union?  What some radical republicans had feared in readmitting the secessionist states seemed to be true in North Carolina, as little attention rallied behind the second Reconstruction Amendment.

     With that said, it is hard to blame either whites or blacks for failing to make more of the laws set out by Congress.  For whites, a financial and political dependency on the oppression of African Americans (and other minorities) had inspired southerners to take pride in their tradition with little regard of the other humans.  Unable to self-ascend within white society due to their lack of education and poor economic standing, blacks pursued labor-based jobs in order to gain some sort of personal autonomy.  Obviously the conditions and stigmas associated with slavery had educated African Americans upon racial and cultural injustices, but without proper political representation, the interests of blacks were often ignored and forgotten, especially in the South.  Then, the ultimate question regarded the mutual betterment of both whites and blacks within the United States.