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How Effectively Did the Three Branches of the Federal Government Protect the Rights of African Americans from Before the Civil War to the End of Reconstruction?

Autor:   •  August 23, 2017  •  1,426 Words (6 Pages)  •  333 Views

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Tecumseh Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15 which explicitly called for the settlement of black families on confiscated land in the South at 40 acres each and Sherman also authorized the army to loan mules to the newly settled farmers. Though approved by Lincoln, Sherman’s plan was poorly executed, giving only a few black families their land and the plan was later revoked by President Johnson the same year. Well-meant but inadequately handled, with this plan the executive branch was at the least somewhat effective in securing freedmen and their family their rights, but this plan ended in ultimate failure.

In document D we see the executive branch in the long run failing at the job of protecting the rights of African Americans. This document discussed the matter of Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation and the Army delivering these orders. When the African American’s were told they were free, the owners didn’t believe them and sent the slaves back to work. When African Americans came to the Army for advice on not being released, the army informed of their orders and nothing else. Once again, an example of the executive branch failing to protect the rights of African Americans by not enforcing the orders they had been giving letting the slaves continue laboring and enslaved.

In the documents given we the judicial branch do a unfailingly dreadful job at securing rights for freedmen or even protecting what little rights they had. For example Document A is a quote from United States Constitution; Article 1 section 9 Clause 1 which is simply the Constitution trying to bar any attempt to outlaw the slave trade before 1808 where at that date Congress would meet to vote an destroy the slave trade, which did not happen. Though it is not a power of the judicial branch to enforce law, it is a power for the judicial to interpret the Constitution. If they had done as such, the slave trade could have ended a full 60 years before it would end in the future, leaving the judicial branch not protecting the rights of African Americans.

Another example of the judicial branch failing at protecting the rights of African Americans is evident in the court case of US v. Cruikshank. The courts said that they had no power to stop whites from murdering newly freed slaves. This was decided after a mob of white men attacked and killed over 300 African Americans who were defending a local courthouse. Though this could have easily been handled by the courts at the time, they forced this duty upon the states and refused to see it as its own. The judicial branch has thus decided that the murder of freedmen has nothing to do with the court, not only not protecting the black man’s rights but destroying those that they had.

Finally, there is the matter of Dred Scott v. Stanford, another Supreme Court case that clearly demonstrates the judicial branch doing a dreadful job at bettering the lives of African Americans. In Dred Scott v. Stanford a former slave filed a lawsuit to be free where the Supreme Court decided that African Americans had no rights so citizens as they were property and that Congress could not profit on abolishing slavery in the territories. Belittling the black man, denying all rights that they had believed they had, are all things the Supreme Court had done with this case and has clearly demonstrated that the judicial branch is dispassionate in securing and/or protecting the rights of African Americans.

In conclusion, the three branches of the federal government did a poor job of protecting the rights of African Americans from before the Civil War to the end of Reconstruction. Each branch saw a different degree of poorness at protecting these rights with the legislative branch not protecting them at first and then changing over time, the executive branch trying and failing, and the judicial branch belittling their rights to an extreme. The federal government did a wretched job at protecting freedmen’s rights at this time and years upon years for them to strength this, and even now, the rights that white men hold are gifted to the black man but yet they do not seem to hold the same meaning. Only time will tell how the federal government will deal with these issues but as of now, history speaks for itself in how well the federal government has done at protecting the black man’s rights in the past.


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