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The Issue of Citizenship in America and Amendments to American Constitution: Analytical Essay

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The issue of citizenship in America, together with voting rights, has been a hot debate over the years. This issue has led to most amendments in the great American constitution. These amendments include the 13th, 14th, and 15th, which have been termed as reconstruction agendas. However, people have misinterpreted these amendments, going contrary to what they advocated. Over generations, people in the country have questioned about their well-being, especially black people and other races.

Main Ideas

A history professor at Colombia University, Eric Foner, in his episode, talks about how the public perceives the idea of reconstruction. He also talks about the constitutional amendments and the power vested to people in changing the country. Foner discusses in his two books, Unfinished Revolution and the Second Founding the concept of American citizenship and the treatment of every citizen. Not so long in the past, blacks and people from other races were unconsidered as American Citizens.

The amendments brought changes in the constitution, where every citizen does self-interpretation, bringing about misunderstandings. Civil war intended to end the idea of racial segregation and slavery, but some states restrained the ambition. The southern states, which are much affected by racism, were among the front runners to resist that idea. The whites believed that black people had no chance to practice voting rights in the country.

Women in American society were considered as a group that had no power and, therefore, also denied their rights, such as voting. Eric says that the legislature and Supreme Court also misunderstood the concept of reconstruction, ending up making decisions that affected society in the long run. If the court could have a broader vision and understanding of these amendments, Eric says things would be good. Many people identify reconstruction as a failure. Eric agrees, but taking a look back at some of its achievements like blacks being allowed to go to schools and having their church, he terms reconstruction as an unfinished revolution.

The 13th amendment of the American constitution looked forward to ending slavery, which had been one of the challenges in the country. Most representatives in the federal government objected to this amendment, including the democrats. States from the southern part were the most affected. Eric’s book, The Second Founding, was written to discuss the issue of slavery, which was much embedded in the American constitution. When criminal laws were introduced, every illegal act was subjected to a felony. People spent years in prison, where those who owned or rented large pieces of land would hire them from the government to work for them. This act signaled that even after the 13th constitutional amendment, slavery did not end, even after the great civil war.

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Eric, in his book, also talks about the concept of equality among the citizens of the United States. He states that every citizen should be accorded equal rights be it from any gender. The 14th amendment talks about granting gay people their rights and be treated equally as others. In writing this reform, the concentration was not about gay marriages but granting equal rights to every citizen. This amendment came in trying to cover up the implications made by the previous one, which happened so fast. With the amendment, every citizen is to enjoy equal rights and protection by the law. The original constitution mentioned nothing about equality.

People in the north and south, highly believed that the states were in control of the voting rights. The 15th amendment previously denied women the right to vote. The resolutions suggested that every male American citizen who is 21 years of age should be allowed to participate in voting. Women who were outraged by the idea came out to protect themselves. Immigrants were not allowed to vote like the Chinese who resided in the state of California. This amendment was termed as a negative one as people were restricted from voting due to their race. The American Indians were also denied their identity as people from the land. However, later reviews, granted all people in America, either by birth or migration citizenship, but under various requirements.


The first part of this episode talks about how reconstruction worked out and failed. People failed to understand the concept and interpreted it in their ways. The historical experience of blacks and people from other races is also inclusive. Slavery is disclosed, which also is included in the next section. The second part, largely base the argument on the various amendments done in the American constitution. The failure of these reforms and what they advocated. The issue of inequality and voting rights to American citizens is outlined. However, the two parts analyze the issue of racism and how it was accelerated. Both parts talk about the treatment accorded to non-Americans, concerning their rights.


Learning this material from a podcast helped to get the direct quotations used by the author. I was able to do a self-interpretation of the provided information. It felt lively listening to this podcast. In my case, I rarely listen to podcasts. Rather I use written materials to get the information I may require. However, learning from a podcast gives more information as it is rare to skip a single element, as compared to a textbook, which is, at times, tiresome. An in-person lecture is much lively since the direct contact is available.


The issue of racism has been in existence since the past. Blacks were treated as a segregated group in society, which saw them being exposed to acts of slavery and being denied access to school. Many whites were against ending slavery, as the amendment proposed. Voting rights were restricted to minority groups, including women. However, every American citizen should be given equal rights to ensure protection by the law.

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