How African Americans' rights were redefined for the better

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The Rights of African Americans: Redefined between 1754 and 1865

The freedoms include a collection of protections given either by an arrangement or through statute to a person. The redefinition of the rights of African Americans between 1754 and 1865 contributed to the creation and adoption of laws and policies that, relative to the previous situation, made their lives more comfortable and valued. There was a need to come up with the most effective measures to be used to secure the interests of any resident of the United States of America, including African Americans, after the extension of the United States of America. The most notable change that took place during this period in the life of the African American was the development of policies and laws that prohibited slavery. This paper will discuss how the rights of the African Americans were redefined between 1754 and 1865 for the better.

Unit 1, Document 4

The Enlightenment Philosophers and Their Impact on African American Rights during the American Revolution

In this document, the Enlightenment philosophers, John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu, were able to positively promote the rights of the African Americans during the American Revolution of 1765-1783. The rights of everyone in the United States of America were firmly protected, and hence, there was not need in treating some people as superior and considering others inferior. According to John Locke, every person has natural rights, and if they are violated by monarchs and other leaders, then the people have the absolute power to overthrow those politicians. Based on the argument made by Baron de Montesquieu, there was the need to clearly define and limit the powers of the government, which was an absolute criterion for ensuring that the rights of the African Americans and other people are respected and protected.

Unit 2, Document 4

The Federalists' and Antifederalists' Perspectives on African American Rights

Even though the liberation of the United States from Great Britain was achieved during the American Revolution, the Federalists believed that the liberty of the US depended on the guaranteed individual rights since the leaders were chosen from the Whites as opposed to the African Americans, who formed the largest population percentage of the United States. In that case, there was a need for the development of more inclusive laws providing the African Americans with the leadership roles in the government of the USA. On the other hand, the antifederalists argued that a strong central government made up of elected officials would be able to act in the best interest of all of the citizens. The arguments by the Federalists emphasized in the fact that there was an urgent need to redefine the rights of the African Americans following the development of the new Republic.

Unit 3, Document 1

John O'Sullivan's Views on African American Rights

John O'Sullivan's article in Morning News dated 1839 was a substantial evidence of the fact that the rights of the African Americans were redefined for the better. According to John O'Sullivan, there was the need to provide the African Americans with the necessary freedoms and rights, which would enable them to develop themselves for their better future. Indeed, this was a substantial argument since following the implementation of policies and laws that prohibited slavery and allowed for an all-inclusive government, there was an increased number of African American who were effectively able to liberate themselves as well as other minorities in the United States of America. O'Sullivan further stressed on this issue when by categorically stating that "the American claim is by right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent, which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and our democratic government entrusted to us."

Unit 4, Document 6

The Efforts of Abraham Lincoln in Redefining African American Rights

The expression by Abraham Lincoln that "A house divided against itself cannot stand" was a clear indication that he was against any efforts to hinder the already set aside policies and laws to deal with the issues related to the slave trade. Abraham Lincoln pushed for constitutional amendments and implementations that were able to promote ultimate unity among the African Americans and the Whites in the United States of America, thus ensuring that the proposed abolition of the slave trade was significantly achieved. More importantly, the push by the President to have equal opportunity for everyone in the United States of America was proven when he categorically stated that "I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved - I do not expect the house to fall - but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other" (Lincoln n.p.).

Outside Source, the Three-Fifths Compromise

The Three-Fifths Compromise: Implications for African American Rights

The enactment of the Three-Fifths Compromise was achieved on 1787, which was made possible after the delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia were able to accept the plan aimed at determining the state representation in the United States of America. Following the enactment of the Three-Fifths Compromise, there was a guarantee that the Southerners would be strongly represented in the House of Representatives, and therefore, they would have disproportionate power in electing the Presidents. Even though this approach helped in providing the necessary solution to the problem related to the representation of the states, it still led to the development of another serious problem. More specifically, the Southern States, which had the largest number of slaves, wanted the latter to be included in the population count, which could be used in the determination of the number of representatives in the house. Contrary to this, the Northern delegates discarded this idea since they had few numbers of slaves in their population. At long last, there was an agreement that 3/5 of the state's slaves would be included in the population count.

Outside Source, 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The 13th Amendment: Abolishing the Slave Trade and Ensuring Rights

It was a very important amendment in the lives of the African Americans since it ensured that their rights were respected and protected by the Constitution through the abolition of the slave trade. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution declared that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for the crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States of America, nor any place subject to their jurisdiction." To ensure that there was a complete implementation of the abolishing of the slave trade within the borders of the United States of America, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the Congress on 31st January 1865 and sanctioned by the federal government on 6th December 1865.


The redefinition of the rights of the African Americans was a particularly important move, which ensured that their rights and freedoms are protected both by the natural laws and the Constitution of the United States of America. Even though the process of redefining these rights was a scabrous way, many great leaders and other stakeholders in the community were able to make the whole process be a success. One of the biggest achievements of this initiative was the reduced number, if not complete abolition, of slavery in the United States of America.

Works Cited

"13Th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery." National Archives, 1865,

"The "Three-Fifths" Compromise | African American Registry." Aaregistry.Org, 1787,

"Unit 1, Document 4." The Enlightenment Thinkers.

"Unit 2, Document 4." Anti-Federalist vs. Federalist, 1788.

"Unit 3, Document 1." 1839: Morning News, 1839.

"Unit 4, Document 6." Abraham Lincoln, "A House Divided," Delivered At Springfield, Illinois, June 16, 1858, 1858.

October 25, 2022
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