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Notes from Hunter Creek – Roger Wall

By Roger Wall

The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

These are collectively called the Civil Rights Amendments. All of them were initiated by Abraham Lincoln. All three were enacted after his assassination. A lot of presidential scholars select Lincoln as the second most significant US President, only preceded by George Washington.     

The 13th Amendment (1865)

“Neither Slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist in the United States, or in any place subject to their jurisdiction. 

Congress shall have the power to enforce this Article by appropriate legislation. 

One will note that the 13th Amendment closely follows the language of the Emancipation Proclamation, first announced by Lincoln in 1862 after the Battle of Antietam and formally pronounced on Jan. 3, 1863.       

The main difference is that the Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the eleven states under rebellion in 1863. It did not apply to the Border States of Missouri, Kentucky, or Maryland, or to any of the Northern States. At the time, Lincoln did not wish to alienate the neutrality of people in the 3 main border states. Delaware was technically considered a border state as it lay south of the Mason-Dixon line. But by 1863, a pro-Union Delaware legislature had finally outlawed slavery, but not indentured servants.       

The United States lagged 100 years behind England in outlawing slavery, and almost 80 years behind France. And it unfortunately cost 622,000 American lives plus another 30-40,000 civilians, the majority of which were black. 

The 14th Amendment (1868)

Citizenship is defined (including children born in the U.S. ).  The Privilege or Immunity clauses are defined…..” Nor shall any State  deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. “

Representation………..  in Congress shall be reduced to any state if the right to vote is denied to any citizen (including all freed slaves) 

Further, States were required to recognize freed slaves as citizens with a right to vote in both Federal and State elections under the newly written state constitutions of the 11 seceding States in rebellion.  They were denied re-admittance to the Union until new state constitutions were written, voted upon and loyalty oaths taken by all office holders. Actually, I believe that 3 states (Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee) had rewritten and voted favorably for new Constitutions that were approved by the North prior to the end of the Civil War.   

15th Amendment (1870)

Right of citizens of U.S. to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the US or by any State on account of religion, color, or previous condition of servitude. 

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by official and appropriate legislation.     

Prior to the enactments of the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil  Rights Act of 1866 was passed by Congress.  President Andrew Johnson vetoed this act.  And for the first time in American history, Congress  voted to override a Presidential veto.   This action along with the firing of  Edward Stanton, Secretary of War,  eventually led to Johnson’s impeachment.  Of course, he was acquitted by only one vote, cast by a renegade Republican Senator.  It is ironic how history repeats itself every 150 years, although sometimes in reverse.

Note: April 10

Well, it’s been a busy spring. Lots of tractor hours have been spent this spring in repair of my creek road and bridge. We have been consistently flooding out every other week. Again, there is a forecast for rain. Now that the grass has turned green and the trees are budding out, we are hoping for only “light” flooding after a predicted heavy Easter rain. 

And NO St. Francois River Easter float this year. The USFS has closed both the Mountain and Riverside campsites. If we wanted to push the issue (we don’t), we could still float the river, as I don’t believe that the Forest Service can shut down the river.  And we could make camp at some primitive makeshift campsites in the Mark Twain Nat’l Forest. And still try to maintain a 6 foot social distance. But most of the elders said the weather looked uninviting for Easter weekend. We vetoed the younger floaters. And life goes on.  

By the way, I predict that Webster’s Dictionary new words for 2020 will be “social distancing,” just  like“selfie” was added several years ago. 

Now get up and go enjoy our beautiful Ozarks outdoors!