The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, passed between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War. This group of Amendments are sometimes referred to as the Civil War Amendments.

The Amendments were intended to restructure the United States from a country that was (in Abraham Lincoln’s words) “half slave and half free” to one in which the constitutionally guaranteed “blessings of liberty” would be extended to the entire populace, including the former slaves and their descendants.


The Thirteenth Amendment (proposed and ratified in 1865) abolished slavery.

The Fourteenth Amendment (proposed in 1866 and ratified in 1868) provides a broad definition of national citizenship, overturning the Dred Scott case, which excluded African Americans. It requires the states to provide equal protection under the law to all persons (not only to citizens) within their jurisdictions.

The Fifteenth Amendment (ratified in 1870) grants voting rights regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”.

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