Passage of the 14th Amendment

At the end of the Civil War and the beginning of Reconstruction, Congress crafted three amendments to the U.S. Constitution that gave essential civil rights to African Americans. The 13th Amendment, passed in 1865, abolished slavery throughout the United States. The 14th Amendment, which became law on July 9, 1868, guaranteed the rights of full citizenship to all Americans, regardless of race; it also guaranteed all U.S. citizens equal protection under the law and prohibited anyone from taking away a citizen’s rights without due process. The 15th Amendment, passed in 1870, guaranteed the right to vote regardless of race.

free resource button small  Passage of the 14th AmendmentThis chapter from Defining Moments: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 describes some of the history of securing voting rights for African Americans.

Additional information about the events before and after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, including biographies of the key players and related primary source documents, can be found in Defining Moments: The Voting Rights Act of 1965.