GENDERING THE CONSTITUTION: MANHOOD, RACE, WOMAN SUFFRAGE AND THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT, 1865-1866
From its creation the United States Constitution referred to all of the nation's inhabitants in gender-neutral terms. But in 1866 the Fourteenth Amendment introduced a gendered distinction between citizens. Designed to replace the "3/5ths compromise," the Amendment's second section declared that a state could only have full representation in Congress if did not deny the elective franchise to any of its "male inhabitants." Congressional debates on the Fourteenth Amendment demonstrate that gender lay at the heart of Republican strategies for enfranchising southern African American men in the immediate postwar period. Throughout the 39th Congress, Republicans adopted gendered rhetoric to discuss political rights and used ideas about manhood to justify giving African American men the vote, relying on gender to overcome the political disability of race. This strategy directly shaped the Fourteenth Amendment's language. As Congress debated the Fourteenth Amendment woman suffrage activists petitioned nationally for the right to vote for the first time, seeking to persuade Republicans to create a truly "universal" suffrage. But with the passage of the gendered Fourteenth Amendment, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony shifted political strategies, first critiquing the Republican connection between manhood and suffrafe and then appealing to teh Democratic Party with race-based arguments for women's enfranchisement.
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