The Volokh Conspiracy

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Today in Supreme Court History: February 26, 1869


2/26/1869: The 15th Amendment is submitted to the states.

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  1. "In April and December 1869, Congress passed Reconstruction bills mandating that Virginia, Mississippi, Texas and Georgia ratify the amendment as a precondition to regaining congressional representation; all four states did so."

    A bitter pill to be sure.

    1. Only for the white folks.

      1. This is a white, male blog, so . . .

    2. Just think, had those states not insisted on maintaining their institution of chattel slavery to the extent that they were willing to go to war, and instead acquiesced in the political arena, the Reconstruction Amendments might never have been passed. Had they never passed, the federal government would be a far different creature than it is today, and the Southern states would certainly have more political autonomy vis-a-vis the national government.

      But, that's not how it turned out. The people in those states chose their route and dug-in their heels on the issue, taking a position that history has condemned them for. And, in return, the original relationship of the federal system was fundamentally transformed as the national government was given additional powers.

      Way to go South....

      1. That's the way history often works. You overreach or miscalculate, and you end up much worse off or with a result that you don't expect.
        I once read an alternate history whose premise was that in 1776, King George III and Parliament acted more reasonably and negotiated with the Americans for some kind of rights in exchange for their dropping the Revolution. 200 years later, you had the Dominion of North American, run by a prime minister of North America and reigned over by the king of Great Britain, a sort of Canada on steroids.

        1. And, incidentally, there was no civil war. Slavery was abolished by Prime Minister Alexander Hamilton, and the blacks were integrated into North American society. 200 years later, they were well educated and made up most of the civil service, and Martin Luther King was prime minister.
          (All of this is background. The main characters are a detective and his comrades investigating crime across the Dominion.)

      2. Actually they ended up better, until the Voting Rights Act etc got passed in the 1960s. Once Reconstruction was allowed to expire and Jim
        Crow kicked in, the South got the benefit of 100% of the (once again non-voting) black population. Before that it was only three-fifths.

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