Portrait of Ohio Congressman John A. Bingham

As early as December 6, 1865, Ohio Congressman John Bingham proposed a constitutional amendment establishing the authority of Congress to protect civil rights. Bingham’s proposal served as the basis of what eventually became the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment. [Wikimedia Commons]

Fourteenth Amendment Facts

July 28, 1868

Key facts about the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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  • The Thirty-ninth Congress, which sent the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the states for ratification, did not include any representatives or senators from former Confederate states.
  • On April 21, 1866, Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens proposed combining many of the proposals being considered by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction into a single constitutional amendment.
  • On April 28, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction completed drafting what would become the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
  • The Fourteenth Amendment contains five sections.
  • Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment addresses the issues of citizenship and federally protected civil rights.
  • Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment addresses the issue of Congressional apportionment.
  • Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment supersedes the Three-fifths Compromise established in Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the original Constitution.
  • Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment excluded many former Confederate officials from holding public office.
  • Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment verified the intent of Congress to guarantee repayment of the public debt incurred during the Civil War and repudiated any debts assumed by the Confederation or any of the Confederate states, or any claims for “the loss or emancipation of any slave.”
  • Section Five of the Fourteenth Amendment empowered Congress “to enforce, by appropriate legislation” the other provisions of amendment.
  • Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens introduced the Joint Committee on Reconstruction’s proposed constitutional amendment to the House of Representatives on April 30, 1866.
  • On May 10, 1866 the House of Representatives endorsed the Joint Committee on Reconstruction’s proposed amendment as House Resolution 127, by a vote of 128 to 37.
  • On May 23, 1866, Michigan Senator Jacob M. Howard introduced H.R. 127 to the U.S. Senate.
  • On June 8, 1866, the Senate endorsed a revised version of the proposed Fourteenth Amendment by a vote of 33 to 11.
  • On June 13, the House voted to adopt the revised Senate version of the proposed Fourteenth Amendment by a vote of 120 to 32.
  • On June 25, 1866, Connecticut became the first state to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Between October 27, 1866 and March 23, 1867, thirteen Southern and Border States (Texas, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Louisiana, Delaware, Maryland and Mississippi) voted against ratification.
  • On March 2, 1867, Congress passed the first Reconstruction Act disbanding the sitting governments of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and Arkansas and dividing the South into five large districts under military control.
  • The first Reconstruction Act required the Southern states to create new governments and ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before being readmitted to the Union.
  • On January 15, 1868, the Ohio legislature voted to rescind the state’s ratification, but Congress ignored the rescission.
  • On March 24, New Jersey’s legislature rescinded its ratification, but Congress ignored the rescission.
  • By July 9, 1868, five reconstructed Southern states (Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and South Carolina) had approved the Fourteenth Amendment, thus reaching the required 28 states (if Ohio and New Jersey were counted).
  • On July 28, 1868, Secretary of State William Seward verified the ratification results and the Fourteenth Amendment became law.
  • In 1868, Oregon attempted to rescind its approval of the Fourteenth Amendment, but to no avail.
  • By 1870, the five remaining reconstructed Southern states (Alabama, Georgia Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas) ratified the Fourteenth Amendment so that they could be readmitted to the Union.
  • The Twentieth Century saw a series of symbolic approvals of the Fourteenth Amendment that had no effect of the legal standing of the measure.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Fourteenth Amendment Facts
  • Coverage July 28, 1868
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 17, 2021
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