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SINCE RECONSTRUCTION after the American Civil War, civil rights advocates have worked toward racial parity in the United States. When the Civil Rights Amendments were passed after the Civil War, it appeared that the country was on the road to fulfilling the promise of equality set forth in the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The Thirteenth Amendment (1864) completed the abolition of slavery; the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) guaranteed equal protection and due process of the laws for all Americans; and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870) extended suffrage to African American males. However, the effectiveness of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments was stymied after the contested election of 1876 when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes agreed to end Reconstruction if Southerners would support him over Samuel B. Tilden, ...

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