While Reconstruction is arguably the least well known and most misunderstood era in U.S. History, the Reconstruction Amendments are among the most important for understanding our government, politics, and law. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments were intended to profoundly reshape the Constitution so much so that many scholars refer to their provisions as part of the “Second Founding.”

For the sesquicentennial of the Reconstruction era, we offer the best online resources for teaching the origins of these amendments, their evolving interpretation by the courts, and the continuing controversies they give rise to, within the overall constitutional system.Below is a sample of the rich and varied collection of free digital materials available to AP U.S. History and Government teachers from the Civics Renewal Network.

American Bar Association

Equal Protection Under Law

Bush v. Orleans Painting Analysis

Teaching About Due Process and the Law

Annenberg Classroom

Constitution Class Videos

Conversation on the Constitution: the 14th Amendment

Annenberg Learner

Reconstructing a Nation video

Ashbrook Center: TeachingAmericanHistory.org

13th Amendment webinar

14th Amendment webinar

15th Amendment webinar

Civil War-era Documents on TAH.org

Bill of Rights Institute

Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation

Voting Rights in America

Eisenhower and the Little Rock Crisis DBQ

Center on Congress at Indiana University

Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Center for Civic Education

Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Constitution

Constitutional Rights Foundation

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

The Southern “Black Codes” of 1865-1866

Lincoln and the Writ of Liberty

Constitutional Source Project (ConSource)

Reconstruction and The American Founding

Slavery and the Constitution

Amendment 13: Abolition of Slavery Clause

Amendment 14: Citizenship Clause

Amendment 15: Suffrage-Race Clause

Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate

Reconstruction (SIM Lesson Plans)


Battle Over Reconstruction

Created Equal: The Abolitionists

Created Equal: Slavery By Another Name

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History

Reconstruction and Citizenship

Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America


Slavery: No Freedom, No Rights

James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation

Emancipation of Slaves Under the Constitution

American Paradox: Freedom & Slavery in the Early Republic


The Press and the Civil Rights Movement

National Constitution Center

Interactive Constitution

Share My Lesson

Martin Luther King Jr.: History and Legacy

Street Law

Timeline and Primary Sources: History of the Fourteenth Amendment

Fisher v. University of Texas II

Obergefell v. Hodges and consolidated cases

What So Proudly We Hail

The Meaning of Martin Luther King Day