The complexity of interests, goals, and motivations continued throughout the Reconstruction period after the war.The radical Republicans, who dominated Congress, were determined to complete the task of eliminating slavery.
What did the 15th Amendment add that wasn't in the 14th? One of the most persistent urges of students of American history is to try to decide whether the Civil War was "really" about slavery or about states' rights.
Another contender for the "real" cause of the war has been the regional tensions between an agrarian and an industrial economy, and another contender, the unequal unfolding in various segments of society of the universal implications of the Enlightenment's principle of individual freedom.
In our own time, these brief histories suggest, it is possible to return to the Fourteenth Amendment for lessons — contingencies, cautionary tales, models of struggle, and to access its yet untapped possibilities.
 “Amendment XIV,” National Constitution Center, accessed July 7, 2018, https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-xiv.
The problem was constitutionally complicated because the pre-war Supreme Court Dred Scott decision had declared black slaves to be non-persons.
A 14th Amendment was necessary, therefore, to explicitly establish the status of blacks as persons and citizens through a natural right, inhering simply in having been born in the country and in recognizing their allegiance to it.
Northern abolitionists had worried that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 would be attacked after the end of the war as merely a temporary emergency measure.) The passage of the 13th Amendment did not end the problem, however, because the freed slaves' legal status was undefined and unclear.
From the freed slaves' point of view, this left them without legal protection against attempts in the South to coerce them into a permanent underclass status.
This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. Constitution. On July 9, 1868, one of the Reconstruction Era’s boldest innovations became law.
Birthright citizenship, equal protection of the laws, and voting rights entered the constitutional pantheon, pointing the way forward for a nation that had been deeply scarred by slavery, racism, and a war that wrought nothing less than a revolution.