The Fourteenth Amendment 1868
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified in 1868, and it granted citizenship and equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves who had been emancipated after the American Civil War, with the phrase “all persons born or naturalized in the United States” encompassing them.
Overall, there are five components to the amendment, four of which originated as distinct bills in 1866 that stagnated in the legislative process before being merged, along with a fifth enforcement element, into a single amendment.
This so-called Reconstruction Amendment made it illegal for states to deprive anybody of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law” or to deny anyone within their jurisdiction equal legal protection. The section of the Constitution allocating representation in the House of Representatives based on a formula that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person was repealed by the Thirteenth Amendment, which was replaced by a clause in the Fourteenth Amendment requiring that representatives be “apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the entire number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.”
Former civil and military office holders who backed the Confederacy were likewise barred from holding any state or federal office, with the condition that this restriction might be lifted by a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Congress. Furthermore, the amendment upheld the national debt while absolving the federal government and state governments of any liability for the rebellious Confederate States of America’s obligations. Finally, the last provision, which followed the Thirteenth Amendment’s approach, allowed for enforcement.
The full text of the amendment is:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Rep. John A. Bingham of Ohio, Sen. Jacob Howard of Michigan, Rep. Henry Deming of Connecticut, Sen. Benjamin G. Brown of Missouri, and Rep. Thaddeus Stevens of Pennsylvania were among the politicians who introduced the amendment’s provisions. On June 16, 1866, the Congressional Joint Resolution proposing the amendment was sent to the states for approval. It went into effect on July 28, 1868, after being approved by the required number of states. However, the post-Reconstruction era black codes, Jim Crow laws, and the United States Supreme Court’s “separate but equal” verdict in Plessy v. Ferguson thwarted its attempt to ensure civil rights for many decades (1896).
The Dred Scott Decision (1857);
Prohibion of Racial Voter Discrimination (1869);
The Civil Rights Cases (1883);
Plessy v. Ferguson: Separate but Equal (1896);
The Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)