14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
The 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868, and granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves recently freed. In addition, it forbids states from denying any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” By directly mentioning the role of the states, the 14th Amendment greatly expanded the protection of civil rights to all Americans and is cited in more litigation than any other amendment.
Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
- June 8, 1866 - The Senate passed the 14th Amendment by a vote of 33 to 11.
- June 13, 1866 - The House of Representatives passed the 14th Amendment by a vote of 120 to 32.
- June 16, 1866 - The text of the 14th Amendment can be found in the United States Statutes at Large, volume 14, page 358 (14 Stat. 358).
- June 22, 1866 - President Andrew Johnson submitted a message to Congress announcing that the Fourteenth Amendment had been sent to the states for ratification. Johnson voiced his displeasure with the amendment by stating that his actions should "be considered as purely ministerial, and in no sense whatever committing the Executive to an approval or a recommendation of the amendment to the State legislatures or to the people."
- July 28, 1868 - Secretary of State William Seward issued a proclamation certifying the ratification of the 14th Amendment by the states.
Search in the 39th Congress to find additional legislative information on the 14th Amendment.
African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A.P.Murray Collection, 1818-1907
The Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection presents a panoramic and eclectic review of African-American history and culture, spanning almost one hundred years from the early nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, with the bulk of the material published between 1875 and 1900
- The fourteenth amendment to the Constitution considered : the right to pursue any lawful trade or avocation, without other restraint than such as equally affects all persons, is one of the privileges of citizens of the United States which can not be abridged by state legislation / dissenting opinions of Mr. Justice Field, Mr. Justice Bradley, and Mr. Justice Swayne, of U.S. Supreme Court, in the New Orleans slaughter-house cases.
- Negro suffrage : should the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments be repealed? / Speech of Hon. Edward De V. Morrell, of Pennsylvania, in the House of Representatives, Monday, April 4, 1904.
National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection
The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) is a library of nearly 800 books and pamphlets documenting the suffrage campaign. They were collected between 1890 and 1938 by members of NAWSA and donated to the Rare Books Division of the Library of Congress on November 1, 1938. The bulk of the collection is derived from the library of Carrie Chapman Catt, president of NAWSA from 1900-1904, and again from 1915-1920.
- Suffrage conferred by the Fourteenth amendment : woman's suffrage in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, in general term, October, 1871 : Sara J. Spencer vs. The Board of Registration, and Sarah E. Webster vs. The Judges of Election : argument of the counsel for the plaintiffs : with the opinions of the court
Jump Back in Time: 14th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.
The Chronicling America site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836-1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the 14th Amendment.
A selection of articles on the 14th Amendment includes:
- "Passage of the Constitutional Amendment by the Senate," The Evening Telegraph. (Philadelphia [Pa.]), June 9, 1866.
- "The Constitutional Amendment Passed by the House," The Sun. (New York [N.Y.]), June 14, 1866.
- "The President on the Amendment," The Daily Phoenix. (Columbia, S.C.), June 24, 1866.
- "Reconstruction: Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment," New-York Tribune. (New York [N.Y.]), July 20, 1868.
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (popularly known as the Constitution Annotated) contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic. It includes a chapter on the 14th Amendment.
African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This exhibition showcases the African American collections of the Library of Congress. Displays more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
This exhibition, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement, as well as the far-reaching impact the act had on a changing society.
Fourteenth Amendment and Citizenship
Law Library of Congress page on the Fourteenth Amendment and the history of the citizenship clause.
July 28, 1868
On July 28, 1868, Secretary of State William Seward issued a proclamation certifying without reservation that the Fourteenth Amendment was a part of the Constitution.
May 18, 1898
The Supreme Court ruled separate-but-equal facilities constitutional on intrastate railroads. For fifty years, the Plessy v. Ferguson decision upheld the principle of racial segregation.
June 2, 1924
On June 2, 1924, Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. The right to vote, however, was governed by state law; until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting.
Citizenship, Due Process, and Equal Protection: The Creation of the Fourteenth Amendment, HarpWeek
The Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, National Constitution Center
Documents from Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, University of Maryland
Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School
Landmark Legislation: Thirteenth, Fourteenth, & Fifteenth Amendments, U.S. Senate
Our Documents, 14th Amendment, National Archives and Records Administration
Toward Racial Equality: Harper’s Weekly Reports on Black America, 1857-1874, HarpWeek
Avins, Alfred, comp. The Reconstruction Amendments' Debates: The Legislative History and Contemporary Debates in Congress on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Richmond: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, 1967. [Catalog Record]
Berger, Raoul. The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989. [Catalog Record]
-----. Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1997. [Catalog Record]
Bond, James E. No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997. [Catalog Record]
Curtis, Michael Kent. No State Shall Abridge: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Bill of Rights. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1986. [Catalog Record]
Epps, Garrett. Democracy Reborn: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Fight for Equal Rights in Post-Civil War America. New York: H. Holt, 2006. [Catalog Record]
Flack, Horace Edgar. The Adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment. Buffalo, N.Y.: W.S. Hein, 2003. [Catalog Record]
Hay, Jeff, ed. Amendment XIV: Citizenship For All. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Greenhaven Press, 2009. [Catalog Record]
James, Joseph B. The Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1984. [Catalog Record]
Meyer, Howard N. The Amendment that Refused to Die: Equality and Justice Deferred: The History of the Fourteenth Amendment. Lanham, Md.: Madison Books, 2000. [Catalog Record]
Nelson, William E. The Fourteenth Amendment: From Political Principle to Judicial Doctrine. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988. [Catalog Record]
Perry, Michael J. We the People: The Fourteenth Amendment and the Supreme Court. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. [Catalog Record]
Burgan, Michael. The Reconstruction Amendments. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006. [Catalog Record]
Hudson, David L. Jr. The Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection Under the Law. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2002 [Catalog Record]
On the 149th anniversary of the 14th Amendment this weekend, Constitution Daily looks at 10 historic Supreme Court cases about due process and equal protection under the law.
On July 9, 1868, Louisiana and South Carolina voted to ratify the amendment, after they had rejected it a year earlier. The votes made the 14th Amendment officially part of the Constitution. But in the ensuing years, the Supreme Court was slow to decide how the new (and old) rights guaranteed under the federal constitution applied to the states.
In the early Supreme Court decisions about the 14th Amendment, the Court often ruled in favor of limiting the incorporation of these rights on a state and local level. But starting in the 1920s, the Court embraced the application of due process and equal protection, despite state laws that conflicted with the 14th Amendment.
Here is a look at 10 famous Court decisions that show the progression of the 14th Amendment from Reconstruction to the era of affirmative action.
The Slaughter-House Cases (14 Apr 1873) ―In the Slaughter-House Cases, waste products from slaughterhouses located upstream of New Orleans had caused serious health problems for years by the time Louisiana decided to consolidate the industries into one slaughterhouse located south of the city. Slaughterhouse owners were incensed. They challenged the state’s action citing the 14th Amendment’s Privileges and Immunities Clause as their remedy. The Court said that the Privileges and Immunities Clause only prevented the federal government from abridging privileges and immunities guaranteed in the 14th Amendment and that the clause did not apply to the states. The move gutted the Privilege and Immunities Clause of its effect and kept the door open for Jim Crow laws in the South. To this day the Privileges and Immunities Clause is seldom invoked.
Plessy v. Ferguson (18 May 1896) ―The Louisiana legislature had passed a law requiring black and white residents to ride separate, but equal, train cars. In 1892, Louisiana police arrested Homer Adolph Plessy—who was seven-eighths Caucasian—for taking his seat on a train car reserved for “whites only” because he refused to move to a separate train car reserved for blacks. Plessy argued that the Louisiana statute violated the 13th and 14th Amendments by treating black Americans inferior to whites. Plessy lost in every court in Louisiana before appealing to the Supreme Court in 1896. In a 7-1 decision, the Court held that as long as the facilities were equal, their separation satisfied the 14th Amendment. Justice Harlan authored the lone dissent. Passionately he clarified that the Constitution was color-blind, railing the majority for an opinion which he believed would match Dred Scott in infamy.
Lochner v. New York (17 Apr 1905) ―Lochner, a baker from New York, was convicted of violating the New York Bakeshop Act, which prohibited bakers from working more than 10 hours a day and 60 hours a week. The Supreme Court struck down the Bakeshop Act, however, ruling that it infringed on Lochner’s “right to contract.” The Court extracted this “right” from the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, a move that many believe exceeded judicial authority.
Gitlow v. New York (08 June 1925) ―Prior to 1925, provisions in the Bill of Rights were not always guaranteed on the local level and usually applied only to the federal government. Gitlow illustrated one of the Court’s earliest attempts at incorporation, that is, the process by which provisions in the Bill of Rights has been applied to the states. A socialist named Benjamin Gitlow printed an article advocating the forceful overthrow of government and was arrested pursuant to New York state law. Gitlow argued that the First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech and the press. On appeal, the Supreme Court expressed that the First Amendment applied to New York through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment. However, the Court ultimately ruled that Gitlow’s speech was not protected under the First Amendment by applying the “clear and present danger” test. The Court’s ruling was the first of many instances of incorporating the Bill of Rights.
Brown v. Board of Education (17 May 1954) ―It is impossible to mention victories of the Civil Rights Movement without pointing to Brown v. Board of Education. Following the Court’s ruling in 1896 of Plessy v. Ferguson, segregation of public schools based solely on race was allowed by states if the facilities were “equal.” Brown overturned that decision. Regardless of the “equality” of facilities, the Court ruled that separate is inherently unequal. Thus public school segregation based on race was found in violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
Mapp v. Ohio (19 Jun 1961) ―What happens when the police obtain evidence from an illegal search or seizure? Before the Court’s decision in Mapp, the evidence could still be collected, but the police would be censured. Police had received a tip that a bombing suspect might be located at Dollree Mapp’s home in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. When police asked to search her home, Mapp refused unless the police produced a warrant. The police used a piece of paper as a fake warrant and gained access to her home illegally. After searching the house without finding the bombing suspect, police discovered sexually explicit materials and arrested Mapp pursuant to state law that prohibited the possession of obscene materials. Mapp was convicted of possessing obscene materials and faced up to seven years in prison before she appealed her case on the argument that she had a First Amendment right to possess the material. The Court held that evidence collected from an unlawful search—as this search obviously had been—from be excluded from trial. Justice Clark’s majority opinion incorporated the Fourth Amendment’s protection of privacy using the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, a very controversial move.
Gideon v. Wainwright (18 Mar 1963) ― Prior to 1962, indigent Americans were not always guaranteed access to legal counsel despite the Sixth Amendment. Gideon, a Florida resident, was charged in Florida state court for breaking and entering into a poolroom with the intent to commit a crime. Due to his poverty, Gideon asked the Florida court to appoint an attorney for him. The court declined to do this and pointed to state law which said that the only time indigent defendants could be appointed an attorney was when charged with a capital offense. Left with no other choice, Gideon represented himself in trial and lost. He filed a petition of habeas corpus to the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that he had a constitutional right to be represented with an attorney, but the Florida Supreme Court did not grant him any relief. A unanimous United States Supreme Court said that state courts are required under the 14th Amendment to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys, guaranteeing the Sixth Amendment’s similar federal guarantees.
Griswold v. Connecticut (07 Jun 1965) ―You know when you’re walking down the street at night with lights in front of you and behind you, and you get that really dark shadow? In the scientific community, that shadow is known as an “umbra.” Flanking that dark shadow on the ground are two or more, half-shadows, not quite as dark, but darker than the well-lit sidewalk around you. Those shadows are known as “penumbras” and were used to explain the most controversial issue of arguably the most controversial Supreme Court case in the 20th century. Estelle Griswold was the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Connecticut when she was arrested for violating a state statute that prohibited counseling and prescription of birth control to married couples. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Constitution protected the right of married couples to privately engage in counseling regarding contraceptive use and procurement. Justice Douglas articulated that although not explicit, the penumbras of the Bill of Rights contained a fundamental “right to privacy” that was protected by the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. Griswold’s “right to privacy” has been applied to many other controversial decisions such as Eisenstadt and Roe v. Wade. It remains at the core of substantive due process debate today.
Loving v. Virginia (12 Jun 1967) ―By 1967, 16 states had still not repealed their anti-miscegenation laws that forbid interracial marriages. Mildred and Richard Loving were residents of one such state, Virginia, who had fallen in love and wanted to get married. Under Virginia’s laws, however, Richard, a white man, could not marry Mildred, a woman of African-American and Native American descent. The two travelled to Washington D.C. where they could be married, but they were arrested state law which prohibited inter-racial marriage. Because their offense was a criminal conviction, after being found guilty, they were given a prison sentence of one year. The trial judge suspended the sentence for 25 years on the condition that the couple leave Virginia. On Appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia ruled that the state had an interest in preserving the “racial integrity” of its constituents and that because the punishment applied equally to both races, the statute did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The United States Supreme Court in a unanimous decision reversed the Virginia Court’s ruling and held that the Equal Protection Clause required strict scrutiny to apply to all race based classifications. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the law was rooted in invidious racial discrimination, making it impossible to satisfy a compelling government interest. The Loving decision still stands as a milestone in the Civil Rights Movement.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (26 Jun 1978)— Allan Bakke, a white man, had been denied access to the University of California Medical School at Davis on two separate occasions. The medical school set aside 16 spots for minority candidates in an attempt to address unfair minority exclusion from medical school. All 16 candidates from both years had test scores lower than Bakke’s but gained admission. Bakke contested that his exclusion from the Medical School was entirely the result of his race. The Supreme Court ruled in a severely fractured plurality that the university’s use of strict racial quotas was unconstitutional and ordered that the medical school admit Bakke, but it also said that race could be used as one of several factors in the admissions process. Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr., cast the deciding vote ordering the medical school to admit Bakke. However, in his opinion, Powell said that the rigid use of racial quotas violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
In addition to these 10 famous cases, this June's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which recognized a national right to same=sex marriage, will likely join the list of notable 14th Amendment cases. In the Court's 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy held that "the Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State."