I posted this answer and it did okay at first, but later, it started to get a whole bunch of downvotes! This is now deleted so only certain viewers will be able to see it but what did I do wrong here? Why was this downvoted?
Your answer went +1/-3 for a total of -2.
I’m not sure that getting one upvote is anything resembling a trend I would call “doing okay at first”. And collecting (literally) 3 downvotes total is not “severely downvoted” - a -11 answer with 4 upvotes and 15 downvotes is what severely downvoted looks like on this site.
Having said that, those few downvotes are probably because the answer isn’t a particularly good fit for the puzzle, injects slavery and arguably racial overtones into a puzzle where they were not at all intended, and - depending on whose viewpoint you agree with - it was also just wrong: The Fourteenth Amendment (Amendment XIV) to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, or perhaps was never ratified at all. We’ll let an actual .gov site have the final word here, which affirms that the amendment was ratified on July 9th and so declared on the 28th. At least one commenter noted the date was incorrect, a completely understandable and well attested position to take, and probably explains a downvote or two. The final downvote came after the puzzle poster noted your answer was incorrect, which on its own may have spurred that final downvote. Or, perhaps, one or more of those downvotes were simply because Tim lost his keys again. (It happens!)
tl/dr: people downvote for their own reasons, which don’t always make sense, and they’re totally allowed to do so. but sometimes you don’t have to think very hard about it—if people think your answer is factually wrong, or seems like a poor fit to the question, they’re more likely to downvote. And at -2, this is far from “severely” anything.
Better luck next time!