Reason for Opposition to the 14th Amendment?

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    What were the reasons for opposition to the 14th Amendment at the time of ratification? I understand now it’s hated because of the Incorporation Doctrine (coupled with the way the Feds are TERRIBLE with what they incorporate), but if it’s original intentions were to secure “basic fundamental” rights to everyone, who opposed it and why?

    Also, when I was visiting the TN State Capitol a few weeks ago, I was shown the bullet hole in the stairway where some legislators tried to flee the Assembly to prevent a quorum from happening before ratification. How can I find a roster of the 34th General Assembly and how each person voted? (and who got shot at?). I’ve also heard that 2 representatives were kidnapped and physically held in the House for a quorum to take place (maybe one of them was shot at).


    There were a variety of reasons for opposition to the 14th, but the most interesting and valid is that it was unconstitutionally “ratified” and a violation of free government.

    Not sure about TN. Good place to start would be the state archives. I am sure they could point you in the right direction.


    > I’ve also heard that 2 representatives were kidnapped and physically held in the House for a quorum to take place (maybe one of them was shot at).

    I had heard that as well, I hadn’t gotten to that part of the Liberty classroom, is that not in there? I heard specifically that a TN legislator, who had voted for the amendment the first time around, wanted to change his vote (or abstain ??) so they locked him in a nearby room to get his roll-call.

    The 14th amendment, IIRC, had in it a clause to essentially unseat all sitting congressmen coming from the south (Section 3?).

    I also heard Martial law was (re)imposed in the south between the first and second votes on the amendment. I know it was imposed around that time, but I don’t know if it was in response to something else or if the timeline fits exactly right.


    All the Southern state legislatures, with the exception of Tennessee, refused to ratify the amendment, some voting against it unanimously. In addition, Southern state legislatures passed “codes” to regulate the African-American freedmen. The codes differed from state to state, but some provisions were common. African Americans were required to enter into annual labor contracts, with penalties imposed in case of violation; dependent children were subject to compulsory apprenticeship and corporal punishments by masters; vagrants could be sold into private service if they could not pay severe fines.

    Many Northerners interpreted the Southern response as an attempt to reestablish slavery and repudiate the hard-won Union victory in the Civil War. It did not help that Johnson, although a Unionist, was a Southern Democrat with an addiction to intemperate rhetoric and an aversion to political compromise. Republicans swept the congressional elections of 1866. Firmly in power, the Radicals imposed their own vision of Reconstruction.

    In the Reconstruction Act of March 1867, Congress, ignoring the governments that had been established in the Southern states, divided the South into five military districts, each administered by a Union general. Escape from permanent military government was open to those states that established civil governments, ratified the 14th Amendment, and adopted African-American suffrage. Supporters of the Confederacy who had not taken oaths of loyalty to the United States generally could not vote. The 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868.

    This doesn’t answer your question as to why the south didn’t want the 14th amendment, but it sheds light on the ratification process.


    Holy ____! Why is it wikipedia spells things out so planly but I’d never heard of this before

    President Andrew Johnson’s vetoes of these measures [1867 Reconstruction Act] were overridden by Congress. After Ex Parte McCardle (1867) came before the Supreme Court, Congress feared that the Court might strike the Reconstruction Acts down as unconstitutional. To prevent this, Congress repealed the Habeas Corpus Act 1867, revoking to the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over the case.

    My history teachers in high school AND college just glossed over this….


    DrBob: I talk about that all the time in my courses, but you are correct, most never focus on this aspect of Reconstruction.


    You can infer the ground of opposition without doing substantial research into the matter. Just read the amendment. It says that southern states’ war debts must never be paid, a huge number of southerners must be permanently disfranchised, Congress will have a new supervisory power over state laws, etc. You don’t need to read Donald, Foner, Perman, et al., to figure it out.


    The government claims authority over us. We are subjects to the king, I er, state.

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