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Unpublished Paper
Deconstructing the First Reconstruction Act, or Why the Former-Confederate States Never Legally Ratified the Fourteenth Amendment
ExpressO (2010)
  • Abraham M Howland, Boston University
Abstract
The First Reconstruction Act (passed on March 2, 1867) was a crucial piece of legislation in our nation's history that effectively forced the legislatures of ten former-confederate states to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment. This paper begins by presenting and evaluating four principle arguments against the constitutionality of the First Reconstruction Act. Following this analysis of the Act’s constitutionality, this paper proceeds to argue that even if none of these constitutional objections is found persuasive, then precisely because of the terms of the First Reconstruction Act itself, the former-confederate states could not have ratified the Fourteenth Amendment in accordance with the requirements of Article V. This paper therefore illuminates a glaring problem in the history of the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. As this paper makes evident, approval of the amendment in the case of each former-confederate state (save that of Tennessee) was either a product of the requirements imposed upon these states pursuant to unconstitutional legislation, or was not the sort of approval that would qualify as “ratification” under Article V of the Constitution of the United States.
Keywords
  • Civil War,
  • Fourteenth Amendment,
  • Reconstruction,
  • Article V,
  • Ratification
Disciplines
Publication Date
March 20, 2010
Citation Information
Abraham M Howland. "Deconstructing the First Reconstruction Act, or Why the Former-Confederate States Never Legally Ratified the Fourteenth Amendment" ExpressO (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/abraham_howland/1/