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H.R. 127, Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States (Fourteenth Amendment), May 29, 1866

To ensure constitutional protection of freedmen, Congress proposed the Fourteenth Amendment, which was ratified in 1868. The amendment overturned the Dred Scott decision by guaranteeing African Americans due process and equal protection under law and defining them as citizens. It revised the constitutional basis for representation in the House: instead of counting only three-fifths of enslaved people, the U.S. Census would count all citizens equally.

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution H.R. 127, Joint Resolution

Congress and the Court Determine African American Citizenship

in 1857 the supreme court decided Dred Scott vs. Sandford (sic), a historic case in which Scott, an enslaved African American, sued for his freedom. The court ruled that enslaved individuals and their descendants were not citizens and couldn’t sue in federal courts. It affirmed slaveholders’ rights in western territories, heightening tensions that sparked the Civil War. During Reconstruction, Congress protected African Americans’ rights through legislation and constitutional amendments. The Fourteenth Amendment nullified the Dred Scott decision by constitutionally guaranteeing African Americans’ citizenship.

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.

U.S. Constitution, Fourteenth Amendment