Fourteenth Amendment

July 28th 

The Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship and equal rights to African Americans took effect on July 28th, 1868.  Although the Fourteenth Amendment was sent to Congress for ratification on June 16, 1866 it was not officially enforced until July 28th, 1868.

The Fourteenth Amendment was a pivotal step in African American’s fight for civil rights. The groundbreaking amendment, most notably granted citizenship and equal rights to African Americans citizens, including former slaves.  

Background

The Fourteenth Amendment is broken into five sections, outlining the citizenship and rights granted to African Americans, the forbiddance and consequences for states that withhold basic liberties to African Americans, the new system for determining selectees for the House of Representatives after the nullification of the Thirteenth Amendment (three-fifths rule), and the national debt acquired during the Civil War. 

The Impact

Despite the ratification of The Fourteenth Amendment African Americans were still deprived of basic freedoms and subjected to discrimination and racism largely due to segregation and Jim Crow laws.

Plessy vs. Ferguson

The Amendment had no effect in Supreme Court Cases like Plessy vs. Ferguson which set the precedent for the Jim Crow era.

Brown vs. Board of Education

It wasn’t until the mid 1900’s that the Fourteenth Amendment finally made a difference in protecting African Americans basic rights and liberties, starting with the famous Supreme Court Brown vs. Board case.


Fourteenth Amendment Text

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.

Full Text from Britannica


Sources

14th Amendment: History.com

Fourteenth Amendment: Britannica

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