Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Joshua Salzmann, Ph.D.


The purpose of this study is to examine the policies enacted during the Reconstruction Era of the United States with regards to their effectiveness at promoting and protecting the civil liberties of the newly freed population. Examining federal and local policies and statutes, along with a detailed examination of United States v. Cruikshank, will provide much insight into whether or not the newly freed black population was actually granted the rights and liberties they were owed and promised. The research will consist of a synthesis of existing literature surrounding local and federal policies and statutes such as the 13th 14th and 15th Amendments, taking into account the events that transpired in the example being examined, as well as the interpretation of the authors of the literature. Along with the synthesis of existing literature surrounding this issue, there will be a section dedicated to my own analysis of United States v. Cruikshank. This case is an example of the courts seemingly failing to uphold and protect the rights of the freedmen. This court case mostly involves the interpretation of the 14th Amendment, which is a focus of this research, but also involves the Bill of Rights. Sources outlining contemporary issues facing our society today relevant to black rights will also be examined as well to provide lessons in what effective and ineffective lawmaking looks like. The main question that this research aims to answer to what extent did Reconstruction Era policies extend the rights of citizenship to freedmen? This question will be explored from many different angles, based on the synthesis of different secondary and primary sources.