After the ragged troops of Lee trudged home, the Conederate Constitution was hauled off as a souvenir, and is still held as one, by private persons. The South was completely broken—militarily, politically and economically.

In Washington the "Radicals" were dominant in Congress. They let the blood dry on the Constitution. Then they put the Constitution on ice and chained the door. Military destruction, they felt, was not enough. They proceeded to "reconstruct" the South, that is, to make its financial, physical and agricultural destruction permanent.

Because the Dred Scott decision in all its ramifications had not been reversed by the High Court and was therefore still the "law" theoretically, constitutional amendments were offered in rapid succession to correct the situation. With the force of war hatred in the North and fear of Yankee bayonets in the South, three amendments were sledge-hammered onto the Constitution.

They were the Thirteenth (adopted 1865) the Fourteenth (1868), and the Fifteenth (1870).

Amendment Thirteen abolished slavery.

The famous Fourteenth Amendment, which we will discuss at length in the next chapter, had four sections.

The First Section provided that persons should not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. This is the section that made the amendment famous—the only section that isn't, for practical purposes, obsolete today.

The Second Section provided that if in any state (meaning, of course, in the South) anyone (meaning any Negro) was deprived of the vote in certain elections, the basis of representation of that state in Congress should be cut down that much. Slaves had formerly been counted at three-fifths per human being, but by this provision, if a Negro were deprived of his vote, he had the liberty of not being counted at all, three-fifths or otherwise.

This generous provision of Congress is interesting because it showed that even in the North, three years after the war, there was not much expectation that the Negro would get to vote.

The Third Section excluded all Confederates from holding any state or federal office except by a two-thirds vote of Congress. Inasmuch as the Southerners had already been disfranchised on a large scale, it looked as though the Republicans would control forever.

But the real genius of constitutional government was shown in the Fourth Section. It was the pride and glory of the Grand Old Party. In that Section these Republican Founding Fathers solemnly slipped in a provision for pensions: ". . . debts incurred for payments of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned." So far as I know, it is the only time such provision ever appeared in a national convention.

Doubtless the reason this was included was that Congress was still thinking about the Dred Scott decision, and it didn't want the Court to cut down the pensions that Congress knew it was going to authorize. Also, thought the Congressmen, it would be a good idea to suggest pensions right there in the Constitution, so all could merrily chant, "G.O.P. Forever."

Indeed, by this marvelous foresight and statesmanship, the G.O.P. held the reins of government almost unbrokenly for three-quarters of a century. The same Section also provided that neither the United States nor any state should pay any Confederate debts.

Then, in 1870, was adopted the Fifteenth Amendment which was supposed to give Negroes the right to vote. Amendment Fifteen provided that no citizen should be deprived of suffrage on account of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The most interesting of all, however, was the development of the Fourteenth, the Hat Rack Amendment. On this Hat Rack were hung all of the trick hats, slick raincoats, and disappearing vests of the big corporations. By it, corporations, instead of persons, eventually got the due process of law; real persons like you and me, got none, or almost none.