NPR 4 THE DEAF: Fables Of The Reconstruction



FRESH AIR: Some of today’s most divisive issues related to racial equality, voting rights and voter suppression, women’s rights, who gets to be a citizen, mass incarceration and what is the meaning of equal justice are issues you can’t fully understand without understanding the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments. These are the amendments that were added to the Constitution after the Civil War in the era known as Reconstruction. The 13th ended slavery. The 14th made anyone born in 51j-SW6qRzL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_the U.S. a citizen and said that the state can’t deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law or deny anyone equal protection under the law. The 15th gave the vote to black men but not any women. How those amendments became part of the Constitution and how they’ve been interpreted over the years is the subject of a new book by my guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner. It’s called “The Second Founding: How The Civil War And Reconstruction Remade The Constitution.” Foner is the author of several books about the Civil War and Reconstruction and is the DeWitt Clinton Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University. Eric Foner, welcome back to FRESH AIR. Give us a sense of the rights that Americans won in the 13th, 14th or 15th Amendments, just to give us a sense of the importance of those amendments. MORE