The Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery and African American slaves gained their freedom during the Civil War; however, this did not mean they were fully integrated into American society. After the war, Southern Whites faced a crisis. The emancipation of slaves and the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of citizenship undermined their assertion that citizenship was for Whites only. The clear line between Whites who ruled and Blacks who were ruled became vulnerable. Since Whites slave owners could no longer treat the former slaves as non-citizens, they sought to strengthen this distinction by restoring slavery as best they could. Imposing disabilities on Black civil rights that limited their access to full citizenship was a goal to reach.
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White political leaders made use of this provision to keep African Americans and White abolitionists away from the ballot box. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution that secured the right to vote for Black men. As the amendment stated “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”, people who had been involved in antislavery movement for decades still had the same political rights as Whites. Again, since federal government lacked jurisdiction to regulate state and local elections, based on state power stipulated under the Tenth Amendment, state legislatures passed restrictive laws that made voter registration more complicated. Subjective literacy tests, poll taxes, Grandfather clauses were disfranchisement techniques used to exclude African American voters.
Despite the attempts of protecting the freedom and rights of African Americans by Congress through these amendments, segregation and discrimination remained a significant factor in their lives. In 1896, Jim Crow laws were challenged in court through the Plessy v. Ferguson case, but the Supreme Court rationalized that "separate but equal" facilities did not violate the constitutional rights