Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

(1868)

Approved by the U.S. Congress in June 1866 and pronounced ratified by the states on July 28, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment extended citizenship and rights to the freed slaves and excluded many prominent former Confederates from government. The Fourteenth Amendment also revised the formula for congressional reapportionment and settled the status of debts incurred during the Civil War.

Even before the Civil War ended, President Abraham Lincoln had wrestled with Congress over how to reconstruct the Union. After Lincoln's assassination, President Andrew Johnson initiated a minimalist program that offended many northerners. The Thirty-ninth Congress, after failing to reach a compromise with Johnson, proposed a constitutional amendment to solve the most pressing issues.

Although today three of its five sections are nonfunctional, the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment has been used, especially since the mid-1900s, to expand significantly the rights of African Americans...

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The Fourteenth Amendment (National Archives and Records Administration)

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