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To What Extent Had African Americans Achieved Equal Civil Rights by 1940 The civil rights of black Americans have improved greatly since the first pioneers of the civil rights movement began their quest for equality Though most people associate black civil rights with the radical movements of the 1950s and 60s the African American fight for equal human rights had actually begun almost two hundred years earlier In 1776 the white American colonists demanded freedom from the rule of the British Empire with their Declaration of Independence However few slave owners recognized the contradiction between their ideals about freedom and the fact of slavery The Americas soon began to establish their own form of government - and their own laws regarding the issue of African slaves and slave labour From 1776 until the final signing of the American Constitution in 1787 the Committee for Constitution debated the issue of black slaves The southern states wanted their black slaves to count as human beings for the purposes of representation so that even though slaves could not vote the South would still have the maximum number of representatives in Congress However southerners were not prepared to pay more taxes for their slaves to have the right of being human The dilemma resulted in the three-fifths compromise A History of the Modern World 8th Ed 145 which stated that five slaves were equal to three free persons for the purposes of taxation and legislative representation in Congress This new American Constitution first enforced the inferiority of black slaves Alana FletcherFletcher 2 Ms Higginson ENG 2D 20th January 2003 and ensured the continuation of the slave trade This would change however with the onset of the Civil War The American Civil War was a major turning point for black slaves Many slaves had fought in
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