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Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Handwritten page from the resolution proposing the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified July 9, 1868, and ensures that all former slaves be granted U.S. citizenship and have all the rights and privileges as any other citizen.
United States. Department of State
1866 June 13
Manuscript

Joint Resolution Proposing the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. House of Representatives, 39th Congress, 1st Session. June 13, 1866. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, General Records of the United States Government, Record Group 11. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/1408913

Excerpt of Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1. 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. The Fourteenth Amendment expands the concept and rights of citizenship and provides equal protection under the law to all. In the second sentence — especially the clause, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens” — Congress amended the Constitution to provide equal protection for all citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed just after the Civil War, when for the first time formerly enslaved people were assured of the right to citizenship. But the amendment’s impact extended even further. It became an important turning point in how the Supreme Court was called upon to determine whether certain laws violate the rights of certain citizens and not others. Many future complaints filed with the courts rest on the conviction that certain laws that apply to some citizens and not others are in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. The phrase “nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” is also crucial, because it means that equal protection of the laws applies to all persons, not just citizens. This is especially important as many immigrants — especially those from Asia and other majority nonwhite countries — were denied the right to become US citizens. Even before the Fourteenth Amendment was passed, black Americans fought in the courts for equal treatment. In San Francisco, Charlotte Brown, the daughter of a former slave, sued the Omnibus Railroad Company in 1863 — at the height of the Civil War — after being ejected from a streetcar because “colored persons were not allowed to ride.” A California judge ruled in her favor, without relying on federal law. Questions of inquiry: 1. Why do you think Congress determined it was necessary to pass the Fourteenth Amendment even though the Bill of Rights protected the fundamental rights of individuals? 2. How did the Civil War and Reconstruction change the concept of who was a citizen of the United States? Referring to Justice O’Connor’s statement, do you think public opinion in 1868 opposed or supported the Fourteenth Amendment? 3. With the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, did formerly enslaved people have the same rights as other people? If not, why not?

This is the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment, which defines the concept and rights of citizenship. In the second sentence — especially the clause, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens” — Congress amended the Constitution to provide for equal protection for all citizens. The Fourteenth Amendment was an important turning point in how the Supreme Court was called upon to determine whether a law violated the rights of certain citizens and not others. Many future complaints filed with the courts rest on the conviction that laws that apply to some citizens and not others are in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This was especially true for those who were originally left out of the US Constitution, including formerly enslaved people, immigrants from specific countries (especially Asian countries), and others. This amendment was passed just after the Civil War, during Reconstruction, when the federal government wanted to ensure that formerly enslaved people were guaranteed the right to full citizenship. The passage of this amendment reversed the infamous Dred Scott decision of 1857 in which the US Supreme Court ruled that African Americans were not and never could be citizens. Since that time, the Fourteenth Amendment has been the basis for challenges to laws that deprived people of their rights on the basis of race, skin color, ethnicity, and national origin.

Thirty ninth Congress of the United States at the first session begun and held at the City of Washington in the District of Columbia on Monday the fourth day of December one thousand eight hundred and sixty five.

Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled two thirds of both Houses concurring That the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States which when ratified by three fourths of said legislatures shall be valid as part of the Constitution namely:

Article XIV

Section 1. 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.

Section 2. 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