14th Amendment Passed

14th Amendment Passed

While the 13th amendment freed the slaves it did not guarantee that they would receive the same rights as white citizens. The amendment guaranteed equal rights and equal citizenship to all citizens. The 14th amendment was initially interpreted narrowly by the Supreme Court. In the 20th century the courts have interpreted the amendment to extend all the protection of the Bill of Rights to actions of the states.

In 1865 the Congress passed the Civil Rights act of 1865. The bill guaranteed citizenship to everyone regardless of race. It was vetoed by President Johnson but the veto was swiftly overwritten by the Congress. Congress even though they passed the bill questioned whether it could be enforced without a constitutional amendment. After various proposals were put forth in June the amendments were passed by both Houses of Congress and submitted to the states for approval.

The Amendment states as follows:
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 number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Section 3. 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.
Section 4. 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.
Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


The amendment was officially adopted on July 8, 1868.

In the course of the 19th century the Supreme Court interpreted the amendment narrowly and stated that it only applied to Federal actions. Starting in the 20th century the Supreme court interpreted the amendment so that it extended the protection of the Bill of Rights to all the actions of the states.