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The House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution, June 16, 1866


The House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution, June 16, 1866


The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed on June 13, 1866, but it would take over two years before the amendment was ratified. Finally, on July 9, 1868, after being approved by twenty-eight states, its provisions became law. A central piece of Congress’s plan for Reconstruction, this amendment was designed to protect the rights of newly freed African Americans. The 14th Amendment declared African Americans citizens of the United States and, thus, entitled them to both “due process” and “equal protection under the law.” If a state passed a law which violated this measure, the amendment directed that this state’s representation in Congress would be cut to reflect the actual percentage of the population that was able to vote. However, Congress did not invoke this section of the amendment even though a number of southern states like North Carolina passed disfranchisement measures. While the measures of the amendment pertaining to African Americans are perhaps the best-known sections of the amendment, it also barred any former office holder who had joined the Confederacy from again holding office and disavowed the government’s responsibility to pay debts incurred by the Confederacy. The state of North Carolina rejected the amendment in December of 1866, before finally ratifying in on July 4, 1868.


United States Congress


United States Congress, "The House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution, June 16, 1866," Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789-1999, General Records of the United States Government, Record Group 11, National Archives, (accessed April 26, 2012).




Erin Glant



Original Format

Government Document



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 the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

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United States Congress, The House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution, June 16, 1866, Civil War Era NC, accessed July 14, 2024,