IV. ABOLITION'S IMPACT ON FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Many abolitionists contended that slavery corrupted the masters and the society that tolerated or approved it. Some Republican advocates of the amendment emphasized the impact of slavery on free men of both races, arguing that it deprived them of fundamental rights. The debaters were not clear on how the amendment would secure fundamental rights such as free speech. Nevertheless, proponents believed that the abolition of slavery would affect a broad network of ideology and relationships, not just the narrow conception of status.
Abolition's social, economic, and political effects satisfied traditional requirements of changed conditions for overturning old constitutional interpretations and common law decisions. The understanding that abolition should result in the protection of fundamental rights of African-Americans resulted in the extension of citizenship for African-Americans and changes in the law of common carriers. The amendment altered laws that did not expressly turn on slave status because courts took a different view of African-Americans in its wake.
Race, Racism and the Law
Vernellia R. Randall
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