The period from the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson through Reconstruction was one of profound change in American constitutional ideas—the transformation from a slave to a free republic, signified by the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. But racism and attachment to old ideas of state rights undermined the transformation. Constitutional issues were fought out primarily in politics rather than in the courts, but by the end of the era, that was changing, with the Supreme Court beginning to play the central role it would claim in the future....
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