Learn American History through 50 pop songs

13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments

Synopsis

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery to this day.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution declared that all persons born or naturalized in the United States are American citizens including African Americans.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Scholastic Teacher Express

Lyrics

© Copyright 2010 by Mr. and Mrs. Gillenwater

Free at last but what does it mean?
Free at last but what does it mean?
Free at last but what does it mean?
Chains no more – broken by Civil War
Slavery banned for every woman and man
Liberty and freedom for all, finally written into law
With tears we read Amendment 13
Free at last but… what does freedom mean?

Soon we learn that free don’t mean free
Soon we learn that free don’t mean free
Soon we learn that free don’t mean free
Of course the Man had a backup plan
Black Codes spread throughout the Southland
Our own guns we can’t tote
Can’t serve on juries, can’t cast a vote
Keeping us down to this Black Codes see
Soon we learn that free… don’t always mean free

Ain’t got no 40 acres, I ain’t got no mule
Workin’ the planter’s land, with the planter’s tool
I’m just a sharecropper, barely gettin’ by
I ain’t got nothing here but freedom, nothing but freedom

A step up with Amendment 14
A step up with Amendment 14
A step up with Amendment 14
From Washington’s Radical Republicans
Sayin’ everyone born in the United States
Regardless of skin color, race, or religion
Was really and legally an American citizen
Equality still a far off distant dream
A step further we came… with Amendment 14

Ain’t got no 40 acres, I ain’t got no mule
Workin’ the planter’s land, with the planter’s tools
I’m just a sharecropper, barely gettin’ by
I ain’t got nothing here but freedom, nothing but freedom

With every step forward two steps back
Separate fountains and everything for white and black
Taxes and tests if we want to vote
Holding us down with Ol’ Jim Crow
And when Plessy versed Ferguson, segregation became in again
Separates not equal for white and black
With every step forward, two steps back

Milestone of 1869
Milestone of 1869
Milestone of 1869
The right to vote – a glimmer of hope
Praise the Lord – this one’s no joke
Finally a voice for our shouts
A political, lawful avenue out
Much more to do but it’s a moment in time
Amendment 15 in 18… 1869

Ain’t got no 40 acres, I ain’t got no mule
Workin’ the planter’s land, with the planter’s tools
I’m just a sharecropper, barely getting’ by
I ain’t got nothing here but freedom, nothing but freedom

Vocabulary

Amendment 13— Amendment Thirteen of the United States Constitution banned slavery.

Black Codes— The Black Codes were laws passed on the state and local level in the United States to limit the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans.

Ain’t got no 40 acres, I ain’t got no mule— 40 acres and a mule was a practice in 1865 of providing land to former slaves. By June 1865, around 10,000 freed slaves were settled on 400,000 acres (160,000 ha) in Georgia and South Carolina. Soon after, President Andrew Johnson reversed the order and returned the land to its white former owners. Because of this, the phrase has come to represent the failure of Reconstruction and the general public to assist African Americans.

Sharecropper— For many African Americans the only option after the Civil War was to become a sharecropper. Croppers were assigned a plot of land to work, and in exchange owed the owner a share of the crop at the end of the season, usually one-half. The owner provided the tools and farm animals.

Amendment 14— Amendment Fourteen of the United States Constitution stated that everyone born in the United States was an American citizen, regardless of race, ethnicity, color and religion.

Radical Republicans— The Radical Republicans were a loose faction of American politicians within the Republican Party from about 1854 until 1877. The Radical Republicans had been opposed to slavery during the war, and after the war supported equal rights for freedmen (the newly freed slaves), such as measures ensuring the right to vote.

Jim Crow— The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated racial segregation in all public facilities.

Plessy Versus Ferguson— Plessy v. Ferguson, is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of racial segregation.

“Separate’s not equal.”— Separate but equal was a legal doctrine in United States that justified systems of segregation. Under it, facilities were allowed to be separated by race, on the condition that the quality of each group's public facilities were to remain equal. In reality, however, they were not equal.

Amendment 15— Amendment Fifteen of the United States Constitution gave African Americans the right to vote.

Tiered Questions

Tier 1 Questions

What did the Thirteenth Amendment say?

What did the Fourteenth Amendment say?

What did the Fifteenth Amendment say?

Tier 2 Questions

How are the Black Codes, the Jim Crow Laws, and separate but equal all similar?

Tier 3 Questions

Analyze the following line from the song: “Soon we learn that free don't mean free”. What do you infer its meaning to be?

Test Prep Questions

1) Many Southern States tried to limit the effects of Radical Reconstruction by

  • (1) adopting federal laws mandating segregation
  • (2) enacting Jim Crow laws
  • (3) abolishing the Southern sharecropping system
  • (4) securing passage of new amendments to the United States Constitution

2) The passage of Jim Crow laws in the South after Reconstruction was aided in part by

  • (1) a narrow interpretation of the 14th amendment by the United States Supreme Court
  • (2) a change in the southern economy from agricultural to industrial
  • (3) the growth of Republican-dominated governments in the South
  • (4) the rise in European immigration to the South

3) What was a common purpose of the three amendments added to the United States Constitution between 1865 and 1870?

  • (1) extending suffrage to Southern women
  • (2) reforming the sharecropping system
  • (3) granting rights to African Americans
  • (4) protecting rights of Southerners accused of treason

4) The Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) upheld a state law that had

  • (1) banned the hiring of Chinese workers
  • (2) established racial segregation practices
  • (3) outlawed the use of prison inmate labor
  • (4) forced Native American Indians to relocate to reservations

5) “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

This statement is part of the

  • (1) Missouri Compromise
  • (2) Kansas-Nebraska Act
  • (3) Dred Scott decision
  • (4) 13th amendment to the Constitution

6) The institution of slavery was formally abolished in the United States by the

  • (1) Compromise of 1850
  • (2) Emancipation Proclamation of 1863
  • (3) creation of the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1865
  • (4) ratification of the 13th amendment in 1865

DBQ 1

Historical Context: The Civil War and the period of Reconstruction brought great social, political, and economic changes to American society. The effects of these changes continued into the 20th century.

Task: Using information from the documents and your knowledge of United States history, answer the questions that follow each document.

  • Identify and discuss one social, one political, AND one economic change in American society that occurred as a result of the Civil War or the period of Reconstruction

. . . All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; 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. . . .

— 14th Amendment, Section 1, 1868

How does the 14th Amendment define citizenship?

During Reconstruction, how was the 14th Amendment intended to help formerly enslaved persons?

Historical Context: The Civil War and the period of Reconstruction brought great social, political, and economic changes to American society. The effects of these changes continued into the 20th century.

Task: Using the above documents and your knowledge of United States history, write an essay in which you

  • Identify and discuss one social, one political, AND one economic change in American society that occurred as a result of the Civil War or the period of Reconstruction.