The purpose of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution was to establish political equality for all Americans. These amendments are collectively known as the Reconstruction Amendments.
The 13th Amendment abolished slavery in the U.S. and all of its territories. The amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865. It was preceded by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which freed all slaves from the "rebellious" states during the Civil War. Most of these states were in the South below the Mason-Dixon line. However, the Proclamation did not free the slaves in the Union, or Northern, states.
The 14th Amendment declared that everyone born in the U.S. is a natural citizen. It was adopted on July 9, 1868, and it is the longest of all the Reconstruction Amendments, having five separate sections. The amendment also covers citizens' rights to due process under law, the right to hold public office, suffrage, compensation for emancipation and debts of war.
The 15th Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1870, and it granted African-American men the right to vote. However, this right was not fully realized until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed. Southern states effectively kept African-Americans from the voting booths through literacy tests and poll taxes.