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tv   Reconstruction Era Rights  CSPAN  November 14, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm EST

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at everyv, all weekend weekend. like us on facebook at c-span history. >> at duke university history professor laura edwards talks about the difference between federal and local courts during the reconstruction in. the actions of these courts frequently conflicted with the each other. this event is part of a series on the supreme court and reconstruction posted by the supreme court historical society. [applause] [laughter] justice kagan: thank you very
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i just want to express my great appreciation for the supreme court historical society and for all of the rest of the associates here who do so much for the court. this year is the 2015 leon silverman lecture series. lecture series like these are an important part of what goes on at the court. but they are only a small part of what the supreme court historical society does. the supreme court historical society puts out a regular journal, it collects items relating to the court's history, which really are all around the court, a lot of the offices and the portraits are a result of the society's collecting efforts. there are a lot of programs for school teachers to make sure that school teachers know how to teach about the court and about the american constitution and altogether, it is just a great support for the court and for
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the justices. it is a great liaison between the court and the outside world. you knowgrateful to the rest of the people who make society work. and by making this society work you help to make the court work. talk is called the reconstruction of rights. professor edwards is a peabody atily professor of history duke university where she specializes in women's history and the history of the south in the 19th century. professor edwards earned a phd
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in history from the university of north carolina. she is the author of the legal history of the civil war and reconstruction. it was published just this year. book was awarded the griswold prize. scarletworks include doesn't live here anymore and confusion,rife and the political culture of reconstruction. can i said i like the title? the best. honored withbeen the howard johnson award for distinguished undergraduate teaching given by duke university. she served as the southern
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association for women historians -- memberthe number of the executive board of the southern historical association. i could continue with a long list of her other compliments but maybe more interesting is to hear her talk about the other amendments. and be more interesting is to hear her talk. [applause] >> thank you, it is really lovely to be here. in 1870, the african-american woman did something that she could not have done when she was enslaved. she talked for her rights. she had a problem with beatty
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armstrong, a landowner who was also her employer. and she expressed her form of anger in a form common in the south. highly verbalize drawing attention to the situation and shame the intended target. as for son put it later, his mom was talking loud. she said she was talking for her rights and she would as much as she pleased and as loud as she pleased. armstrong issued a threat. she did not stop, he would make her stop. when she continued his trucker in the face and broke a piece of her tooth and stopped her. or so he thought will stop she used his actions to file charges against him. i discovered that the best evidence often turns up in this
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way. usually refuses to offer the evidence that i want. fear i have passed by many important findings because i have no idea what to do with them. occasionally a piece of evidence next to stop and take note. that's what was happening with .er case i have it upside down. case because you thought it provided a particularly compelling example of something i already knew. the constitutional changes at the creek and -- reconstruction era opened it to
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african-americans. maria mitchell had writes in 1870 that she did not have before and she was claiming them. she had them because of passages of the amendments with provided federal protection of civil rights, among other things, prohibiting states from discriminating on the basis of race. she said she was talking for her rights and what is loud as she pleased which underscored these changes in a way that was hard to miss. i thought i had it figured out, but i didn't. my initial interpretation of security much larger story. in the context of legal matters that most of us would consider unremarkable, not constitutional. story was thes documentation of cases like maria mitchell.
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sources, not published they are appellate cases and legal treaties that most associate with history. some are reduced by circuit courts which met in a regular schedule in court towns which held jury trials. most interesting child's like this one were produced by magistrates. they set up court where they were, taking time out of their day issue complaints, adjudicate, and send these issues through the legal system. the people involved took an active part in the process. collecting evidence, providing information, and you actually see the context in these documents. the handwriting is by officials with pen in hand. than most ofneater them.
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the names are those of the were hashing out life's problems and you can even hear these people talking if you say the words out loud all stop you of some french's, some german, some irish and certainly the creel cadences that marked the speech of so many cases of african descent. if you keep looking, you can see the law as it worked in daily lives. systemrt of the legal was charged with maintaining public order. or keeping the peace. issues that included all but the most criminal cases as well as a broad issue. the expectation was officials which it -- adjudicate conflict in the community dealing with what was right. not everyoneously
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agreed and not everyone's opinion carried equal weight. this framework was not just it was characterized the operation of law in those reports throughout the united states. it was the legal framework most familiar to americans in the 19th century. once those cases were concluded, the documents were's folded thirds, tied in a ribbon and forgotten. so was the legal context that produced these documents. this was actually one that had been folded in thirds than unfolded and steamed open. it is hard to imagine this legal where people are doing what they thought was right had
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anything to do with the 14th amendment. but it did. fair warning. i will take you on a journey to places that are strange. places like edgecomb county north carolina and the venues of local magistrates. i promise i will get you back to familiar terrain, washington, dc and the u.s. constitution all stop but hopefully it will render these familiar places a little less familiar. to tell the story i must first talk about the legal system and the two different systems offered. once focused on individual rights, and the other on maintaining public order and doing what was right at the local level. they both mattered. then i explore what happened after the passage of the 14th amendment which properties legal
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frameworks together and encouraged americans to see federal authority as a protection of both rights and what was right. predatess revolution the rights revolution of the 20th century. was not just ordinary americans who transformed rights and the reach of federal authority. a much wider array of issues that have been the case before the passage of the 14th amendment. that was not necessarily the intention, but it was the rueful -- result. enduringofound and allowing citations what rights and hetero authority can compass. it seemed obvious. she was claiming rights that other american citizens had. and denied her estate law until the federal government interceded. when i returned after writing a
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book and legal culture, her claim struck me as odd. for that bookh that made me come to terms with what local record said about the structure of the law in this part of the legal system. ever, and voteif the rights in the context of criminal cases and local courts. that was because local courts did not use the framework to adjudicate those cases, or for that matter, any of the matters in public order. putting criminal matters in a wide variety of issues. most americans, including those outside the south would have been familiar with the operation of law within this legal system because the tight central roles in the proceedings. americans, i really do mean most americans, even the enslaved. given that context, mitchell
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must have known that rights have little power in local venues. so for her to be talking about rights, rights she could claim in a criminal case, missed the mark. so what did she mean? catch of that question we need to explore the legal system of the early 19th century. before we do that we need to know to bring things in the early 19th century that are different from the situation today. legal authorities is a federal government and state was limited. be later, but not now. the federal government was a distant entity for most people. military service, military pensions, the campaigns for federal office, and prosaically, the postal service.
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people are more likely to encounter the legal authority of state. states protected the rights of individuals in the tour responsible for maintaining public order all stop but they delegated significant power to counties and in its appellate to and matters involving the maintenance of public order. was being done right. that situation dates the revolution. their decentralized the most important question of government. -- in the name of much that was done and legal venues earlier to circuit courts. such as magistrates, hearings and trials. these really are part of the fabric of people's lives.
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they convene wherever there was sufficient space. it was even true for circuit courts in the first decade of the 19th century when many counties lacked the formal court houses that would later house these courts. here we have nichols mill which is the forced -- first courthouse in spartanburg. and today we say a mill, that is so quaint. but that is not really a legal forum. but it was. and we need to take this as a legal forum as a document for what the law meant in people's lives. the next thing you need to know is that rights in the early 19th century were not what they are today. but i use the term rights i'm referring merely to those rights at the time which were thought to be conferred by government, which were available to individuals.
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that is free white men, particularly those with property. rightsondarily, natural which belong to everyone, in theory, and cannot be infringed by government, in theory. natural rights were also connected to civil and political rights in the sense that those who could claim civil and political rights had stronger claims to natural rights than those who did not, such as married women and the enslaved. property ownership was inseparable in the early 19th century. property requirements for suffrage had only recently been eliminated at the time of the civil war. offices inor some some states were still restricted on the basis of property. in civil rights also involved property ownership, accumulation
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and exchange. authority over the legal framework of individual rights lay with state and federal jurisdictions. courts in turn generally followed state laws and matters leading to rights, unlike situations relating to matters of public order. authority over rights did not mean that they exercised extensive authority over people's lives. the quentin bryce with freedom, liberty and social equality which would suggest otherwise. know, political rhetoric does not always describe reality. they were very
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limited and's within the political system. the americans who could claim the more a minority. these were among individuals by identifying winners and losers. were and federal courts committed to the preparation -- preservation of rights as such. not to be concerned with individuals who brother problems to the court for adjudication. so it produced outcomes of questionable justice, at least according to the standards of many americans. convictions overturned because of an improperly framed indictment or seizure of property because of a faulty bill of sale. more often than not they tended to preserve inequalities because they tended to involve property ownership and economic exchange. situation also explains the
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19th century stereotype of lawyers and parasites, who exploited rules to process on the -- profit on the misfortune of others. so what about the u.s. constitution's bill of rights and similar provisions in state constitutions? the u.s.s in constitution only applied in federal cases which meant they were not available to state and local matters. rightscould reach for enumerated in their state constitutions, the fact that they also had broad powers to regulate the name of the public good made them contingent and not absolute. localtates and governments exercised wide latitude in limiting or suspending rights in the name of the public good. they recognized even more because they had so
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much more to the local level. assume that law was designed from ehrlich at the federal level and the state levels and that it was primarily concerned with the framework of individual rights you have a very partial view of the law in the first half of the 19th century. you would think for instance that the majority of americans who could not claim those rights were all excluded from the legal system. you would also find a legal matters of the local level that was supposed to do what was right to be utterly unintelligible or unimaginable like this one which involved where two slaves are stealing from another slave. and yet get these cases at the local level. most scholars look to fate and
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sterile -- state and federal jurisdictions to explain the law in most americans experience with the law was at the local level. maintain the peace of the southern border. order ofsed the ideal the metaphorical public body. subordinating everyone within a hierarchical system. only innclusive, but the sense that it enforced everyone in the patriarchal embrace and raise those over any a -- any given individual. you are part of it whether you wanted to be there or not. so keeping the peace meant keeping everyone from the lowest to the highest in their appropriate places.
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this was actually about coercion. not localized system did recognize the rights of free women or free blacks. it still incorporated them into its basic workings. maintained their subordination and regulated their behavior but also relied on information they supplied. take for example two cases initiated by slaves. one slave complained that a free black men have been playing cards with another slave on sunday. another complained that the same free lack meant assaulted one of those slaves after the card game. that another complaint probably could be filed. that was not mentioned
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technically these slaves gave information. in putting the" because laws prohibited all slaves from filing complaints. the magistrate proceeded based on that information so it was the magistrate who acted as the prosecutors they had their own reasons for what they did reasons that we no longer know but perhaps involve the proceedings they got from the card game and other issues that remain lost in history. in the magistrate's concern were likely more centered on the disorder caused by slaves and free blacks gaming, drinking and fighting on a sunday. as such, the cases illustrate central elements of this part of the legal system. different people pursued .ifferent ends within it
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it was possible because it depended on the participation of every member of the local community. they gathered witnesses and represented themselves. the definition of interest here whichry broad and varied should not surprise those of you who grew up in small towns. it was not unusual for witness, after witness, after witness to tell what they knew. his situation that magister's bore patiently. knowing that it was also about healing a rift in the community. that is why court officials also prosecuted cases on behalf of individuals without legal status to do so themselves. such as the two slaves a just mentioned, but also married women and minors. the cases that did not exist in this reload such as violence against slaves, child abuse
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keenly leapt forward. things that were wrong and not outt local courts meted justice on a case-by-case basis to write those wrongs not to maintain individual rights or even to establish precedents that others could claim. some regarding rights in procedural respects, decisions claimed light on common-law in the traditional sense. local customs, how we do things here. accepted wisdom. the bible, fables, fiction, the wisdom of somebody's grandmother, the kind told with a hand on the hip and a finger in your face. as well as an array of legal tests.
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the law in this part of the system was capacious and uncontrolled by professionals and thus skull to reform by many trained lawyers who saw to limit texts cited in court to those recognized by state law. when you read these calls for reform you can sit and wonder what are they thinking? it is because they are bringing all of these other materials into legal cases that makes this necessary. the legal cases used allowed for the handling situations that would not have had good standing in state or federal court. masters filed charges against slaves they could not control. charges against her husband's. children informed on their parents. even slaves tried to mobilize. aunts, uncles, and cousins
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lining up to air their dirty laundry. one of my favorite cases involves three wives and a goose. filed charges against wife three for stealing her goose. wife three insisted she did not steal it, but had not the goose from wife two, which would make her the thief. none of these women could prosecute a case, let alone own or sell kees because of coverture, which ensued the legal abilities with those of their home -- husbands and limited their ability to prosecute cases over property. but they were operated by property cases by federal law that did not apply in this case. the magistrate prosecuted to clay -- case based on the information of the wives. the goose went back to its original owner, wife one.
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not because the court recognized her property rights, but because that was where it belonged. when order -- when that happened, people expected the court to write the wrong. decision is profoundly situational. one person's experience to that transfer to another person of status. each jurisdiction produced inconsistent rulings and get resolving particular matters. people saw the situation is natural and just. we today would see it as unnatural and unjust. but it made sense at the time. why impose arbitrary rules developed elsewhere and set of the local community.
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was playing mean and needed to be kept in line. dids carter, enslaved, he to carry a gun to attend to his master's business. despite the statutes prohibiting that. and elias had a last name because his father did. we don't know why his father did, he just did. susan greene kept kees. ever but he knew to be her property. even though she was married into that really on them, they were her geese. you needed to know that information to know how to maintain order in those places. ,n determining what was right most legal venues played a crucial role in defining as well as maintaining the public order in their particular community. which brings us back to
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reconstruction. to maria mitchell and to her claims to rights. when she filed a stall charges, she was using her new rights to access the legal system. but those rights were not the one she had been talking about. those rights, the ones that were unspecified but loudly asserted were about what was right. beatty armstrong with assault which was an offense against a piece of the community. it was not necessarily a violation of maria's writes. people pursued such cases because they wanted public condemnation of behavior at odds with their view of the public order. in the first half of the 19th century these claims like korea mitchell or gaming on sunday stayed at the local level.
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but the reconstruction amendments, the 14th amendment in particular changed all of that. they did not just affirm the rights of african-americans to made it possible for claims about what was right to travel elsewhere in the system. altering the meetings of rights and changing relationship to the federal government. what was right became rights. claims about what was right first traveled into federal jurisdiction. maria mitchell's efforts are characteristic of the action of many formally and said -- enslaved people. although they have taken such actions for granted it is really remarkable the people who had been enslaved would look for redress in the very legal system that had maintained their enslavement. authorities usually attribute
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such faith in the law to the promise of rights. but african-americans were acting out other's deeply rooted expectations about the law that it should maintain a just and public order. moment theise at the possibility of the end of slavery, they could access legal authority to access their vision of what was right. what constituted a just society. those expectations explain why enslaved african-americans begin bringing their complaints to legal venues during the civil war when their claims to freedom were still tenuous. lines, theyfederal sawed up military officials and courts to adjudicate their conflict. before passage of the 14th amendment at a time when states of the former confederacy
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limited the rights of all african-americans through notorious barcodes. with rights venues claims but also expected officials to address the kinds of issues that would have fallen to local courts and had them handled within the framework of what was right. they brought interpersonal conflict involving violence and domestic issues, as well as matters involving social justice, such as the treatment of refugees and unification of families. in these cases, the expected federal venues to do what was right not just uphold the rights. the jurisdiction struggle to keep up. the consternation of some of palpable.cials is so
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you can almost see them with a furloughed brow trying to figure out how to handle these cases. needless to say, most of these issues were not the kind that had fallen within federal purview before. but officials persisted. authoritysed federal might have been temporary if not for the passage of the reconstruction amendments, particularly the 14th amendment which gave the federal government authority over the state handling of rights, something did not have before. those powers were limited and largely negative all stop the 14th amendment replaced restrictions on states, prohibiting them from making and enforcing any law which will abridge the civil liberties of states, of the united or depriving anyone of life, liberty or property without due process of law. it also denied them equal
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protection of the law. the federal government can regulate the administration of rights but cannot create or distribute rights. the civil rights act extended civil authority to state law more directly but given political oppositions and the limited resources of the federal enforcement agencies, that enforcement was never fully realized. that negative power was profound , particularly in states of the former confederacy. it forced states to extend rights to african americans which made it possible for maria mitchell to turn bd armstrong's assault into a legal matter will stop -- matter. had she still been enslaved she would not have been able to file litigation. a local official might have prosecuted but was more likely to see it is legally sanctioned
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discipline that a master could use against a because of trent slave. so the u.s. constitution might seem distant or irrelevant but it was not. mitchell and other african-americans could file charges because of their civil rights. enabled by the 14th amendment, enshrined in state constitutions and protected by the threat of federal force. what happened in those courts altered federal authority. up habitsly it opened for ordinary americans conceptions of what was right to migrate out of local venues through the framework of rights. before those constitutional changes, americans claims about what was right would have remained in local courts.
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they handled each case as a particular matter involving particular people. uniquereed to equally individuals. once that wrong was righted, order was restored in the were no further consequences. such cases would never have made jurisdiction.ral they could have appealed to the state level but only state law. it's the wording of an indictment the provide -- that apply to similar cases. courts did not consider whether bd armstrong's actions represented a defense against public order. they did not decide whether they were right or wrong all stop did nottchell's case migrate out of the local courts, but her words point to the logic of the process that did allow
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such claims to travel into new jurisdictions. bd armstrong's actions were not right and they violated her rights. when claims about what was right were attached to the framework of rights, they required meetings they did not have an local jurisdictions. they were no longer about particular conflicts, weird conflicts involving weird individuals. instead they involved rights andersally applicable enforced by the authority of the state or local government. the framework allowed one person's claims to acquire the power of a universal claim. they could even acquire the status of constitutionally protected rights. one of the most from at it examples his access the public , even and services
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government jobs. in the early 19th century, claims involve the maintenance of public order not the rights of individuals. nebulous part of a category of social rights. villages established in context that very from one community to another and were not protected by federal law. vendors were actually required to service the public and were subject to state and local regulations as a result. but such expectations never guaranteed equal access. to the contrary the access had always been strict it, particularly for african-americans, but also free women. ordinances and long-standing customary practices which restrict -- constrained where people could go and how they could act.
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african-americans framed planes to new states in terms of rights they should sent to them in the federal government should protect, who, they asked, had a right to access public space and accommodation if not the public? was it not government duty to ensure access? those claims were not that far removed from maria mitchell. mindanted to speak her what she wanted and how she wanted. such views had the report of keeping congressional leaders, but it was ordinary people who really pushed his popular conceptions and access to public spaces as a right into illegal arena. the civil rights act explicitly acknowledged such claims as acts access to involving public space continued to cast the issue in terms of civil rights. the characterization that was
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ultimately accepted and institutionalized. african-american claims to those difficult tolways celebrate from their conception of what was right. because of the structural racism of the 19th century. there was a lot of it. you cannot underscore that enough. thatnce was so pervasive it was difficult to identify either the motivation or sometimes the result. the result in terms of the application for the social order and legal system that were harder to assess. when supremacists used violence indiscriminately to keep african-americans from using their civil and political rights. what supremacists use violence widely and indiscriminately to
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keep african-americans from pursuing their vision of what was right. to keep them from using public space, even going to school. they routinely adjudicated cases that did notlence involve violations of civil and rights.l many more acts of violence never reached court at all. what distinguished those at the -- l level from those that the emphasismany more acts of vr reached court at all. what distinguished those at the local on those cases involving rights violations of skewers underlying commonalities and all of the cases involving violence. but when african-americans challenged it in court they were challenging a structure marred by racism. theirwere substituting
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own vision of what was right, not by using their rights. one of the most famous cases of the period to reach the court provides a particularly dramatic example. the case resulted from the federal government's example of voting rights violations from the election. a year later there was no clear outcome and some local areas were still in a state of of people as a result. intotainty exploded violence when a white mom along with the democratic party attacked local african-americans online to the republican party. it was estimated that the white 150killed between 160 and african-americans. federal investigative did with they could to identify and convict the members of the mob and the defendants probably turned around and appealed.
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cruickshank, it is really difficult to this still questions about right violations from broader questions to what was right. the civil right claim by the white mob with questions but the public order. abouttely, questions rights could not resolve the underlying program -- problem in that case. what was wrong was the pervasiveness of white supremacy. making that right would take more than the recognition of rights. that is what made shank so difficult then and so controversial today. ultimately the justices decided the case had no choice but to do so the framework offered in that jurisdiction and when clearly frustrated some of the justices could find no good way to uphold rights and achieve justice. it limited federal authority and with it the federal government's ability to intervene on behalf
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of african-americans who claimed rights violations. in that sense it moved in a direction that seems to many people wrong. my soak it -- focus thus far has been on cases involving african-americans in states of the former confederacy. implications that the constitutional changes did not end with african-americans. the reconstruction amendments alter the relationships of all americans to rights and the federal government. they positioned the federal government as an arbiter between all americans and their state while elevating the important of rights as a means by which americans could access federal power. it did not take them long to do so. which brings us to white women and butchers in the slaughterhouse case.
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white women and butchers, do not often do to say that. both of them were hurt by the u.s. supreme court, the very year of the colfax massacre. , played anll influential role in illinois legal circles. publication on which many lawyers depended to keep current on the law. it was ironic when the illinois state legislature filled with lawyers who read her publication refused to consider her application to the bar. she challenged the decision making creative use of the 14th amendment and she won using arguments that other women's rights advocates were advocating at the time. she admitted that it was not in and of itself a right but it was
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essentially connected to her right to pursue her livelihood. these issues were of central importance to women. legislature refused to consider her application, they had denied rights to her that regret this granted as a matter of course to other male citizens. the u.s. supreme court rejected the first part of the argument, thereby evading the second part which dealt with the amendment application to women. use illustrates this broader transformation underway people using this to get federal authority to deal with laws the disagreed with the state level. so it is difficult to imagine stranger legal allies than myra but there were distinct parallels. the butchers were challenging an ordinance that required
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licensing and designated a central location. you can see why it would be favorable to many people. the new orleans ordinance was not particularly unusual. regulatetraditionally slaughterhouse is because of the obvious health risk. things going downstream. in new orleanss had a particular beef with their government. they were white men mostly supported by the democratic legislation who saw it as over reach. wanted to undermine the republican party by using the tools that the republican party were using. with party leadership they reached for the laws of the political opponents and use the 14th amendment to protect what they saw as their right to pursue a livelihood as others could. the judges in the slaughterhouse
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cases arrived in their conclusion by different legal route than the one they took in illinois. myraike the butchers, atwell flamed -- framed economic opportunities as a right protected by the 14th amendment. the court rejected the claims. this instanceg in because we're talking about slaughterhouses. toy were explicit in trying limit the meaning of rights in the 14th amendment, insisting it was designed to collect data protect the civil and political rights of african-americans. intended for the expensive uses to which the butchers -- butchers wished to put it. in those cases, the judges saw to contain the multiplication of rights. so in which direction to these cases move?
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you could read the mess and affirmation because they limited other rights. you could read them as a harbinger of arguments that connected the amendment to economic claims and a broader array of rights. scholars predictably have made both arguments in the scholarship kind of stalls out there. what does this mean? what direction do these cases go? the conflict was and is the point here. examples of the efforts of all kinds of americans to make their view of what was right into a right. the conflict is the point. formallythe cases of -- formerly enslaved people had a lot in common with the cases
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of myra bat -- bradwell and the new orleans butchers. they all made rights claims. expect aese americans lot of federal jurisdiction, and they were not alone. the key cases the late 19th number contained a large of censures. expansive views of federal power and what it could accomplish. those views were firmly embedded changes oftitutional an era that dealt with rights but did so in a way that tied rights to the way that legal venues could write wrongs. connection, the between rights and what was right was even stronger in popular conceptions which increasingly identified rights as a means to achieve justice.
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that link carried its own problems and still does. as cruikshank's and others suggest, individual rights even in the most expensive form have definite limits when it comes to achieving social justice. nor is the preservation of rights synonymous with the public good. still, the changes allow the aspirations of diverse groups of americans to move into the realm acquireal law and to the status of universal legal principles and ways than ever could have before. specific claims express the values of americans and were deeply rooted in governing practices widely held by a broad range of americans from all parts of the country and all walks of life. they raised expectations about the federal government's role in
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maintaining a just social order. those expectations could only result in conflict because there was no consensus among the american people about what was right. but what constituted a just society. >> at the same time the conflict was necessary. you. [applause] >> american history tv sunday. .ur new series who is on what side? senior citizens against the kids? let them have it.
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thetold me to sit facing coke machine. i just do what i'm told. [laughter] look back at the 1992 presidential campaign of bill clinton during a visit to franklin high school. marking the 70th anniversary of the nuremberg trials on real america -- reel america. continuing on oral histories. >> my outfit went over. a couple days after d-day. and my captain, there was a new captain on the job who came and said you say here. it was one of those times when somebody reached out. and i was left. and off they went. later beforel days
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i went across and rejoined my outfit. interview with benjamin, a former chief prosecutor for the united states, born in pennsylvania to a jewish family and immigrated to america. he reflects on joining the u.s. army in setting up the war crimes branch to investigate nazi atrocities. watch american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. 70 years ago, a military tribunal began trials with 22 nazi officials in nuremberg, germany. november 29, 1945, the film, not to concentration and prison camp was shown in the courtroom and
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entered as evidence in the trial. leslie swift describes the documentary. createds a compilation to be shown as proof against the high command tried at the nuremberg military tribunal in 1945 to 1946. alliedfilled shot by the troops as they entered several ps.the larger caps -- cam the chilled corpses, the state in which they found many survivors. footage that many will have seen today in different context. it was one film at one time. >> how important was it as evidence? >> it was very important. not only because of the shocking and visceral nature, but i believe it was one of the first examples of film being used as evidence alongside the documents
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to try these men. >> is there still value in doing it today? >> there is a great deal of value. a worldre anything of war ii buff, you will have seen these images before. but it is interesting from a historical interview to see how it was entered together and you can read a lot about what they were trying to communicate in the courtroom and to people back home who were just then learning about these crimes. >> the united states will at document forsent a a film on concentration camps. >> the slave labor camp
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liberated by the third armored division first army. at least 3000 political prisoners died here at the hands of german ss criminals. the guardhouse had been a depository for slaves found unfit for work, and other german camps and factories. american medical crews find two dozen still alive at the cap. -- had discovered inside a daily ration of potato peels, one slice of bread come a and an occasional bowl of a liquid that was said -- bread, and an occasional bowl of a liquid that was supposedly soup. the dead quickly outnumbered the living. amid the corpses are human skeletons, too week to move -- too weak to move.
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men of the medical battalion's work for two days and nights binding wounds and giving medication. for advanced cases, there were often no cures. there are shown being given treatment and allied hospitals. >> next on american history tv, we hear from timothy reeves, deputy director at the dwight d. eisenhower presidential library. he discovered -- discusses the belief that social welfare programs could fill the void created by the closing of the american frontier and thss


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