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The Fourteenth Amendment

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THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT.

Section I. 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 anyperson of life, liberty, or property due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the 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 21 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 I' natation therein shall be reduced in the proportion s= the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens 21 years of age in such State.

Section. 3. No person shall be a senator or represen tative 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 two-thirds vote 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 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 power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

The Fifteenth Amendment— Propositions having negro suffrage as an end were almost as numerous during this period as were similar efforts toward an emancipation measure prior to 1865. Indeed, one of the most frequently suggested means of enforcing the 13th Amend ment was by conferring suffrage upon the freedmen. Limitations of space render it im possible to trace here the evolution of the 15th Amendment through these numerous bills and resolutions. It has been noticed above that the author of the 13th Amendment was a senator from a Western slave State,— Mr. Henderson of Missouri. It is even more singular that the same man should also have introduced the reso lution which became the 15th. Early in the first session of the 40th Congress, 7 March 1867, Mr. Henderson introduced a resolution propos ing an amendment to the Constitution which would prohibit a State from abridging the right ato vote or hold office on account of race, color or previous condition." The 40th Congress had three sessions, and the Henderson resolution slept in the Judiciary Committee until well along toward the close of the third. It was reported by Senator Stewart, on 15 Jan. 1869, amended to read as folloWs: aThe right of citizens of the United States to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by the United States, or any State, on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude." The Senate passed this resolution on 17 Feb ruary. The House amended it by striking out the words aby the United States,* which would have left Congress with absolute control over negro suffrage. It also added to the grounds upon which suffrage abridgment was denied the States those of nativity, property and creed. The House had just refused to accept from the Senate such an amendment to a resolution of its own. Its action now, in tacking this on to the Senate measure, showed an utter absence of anything like agreement between the two bodies as to the precise form of the amendment. The situation finally yielded to considerations of party expediency, and the House acceded to the Senate's request for a conference. This resulted in a recommendation that the House recede from its amendments and agree to the Senate resolution. The latter, however, was to be amended by striking out the words nand hold office." Here was another important compro mise to be engrafted on the Constitution, whereby was secured the 15th Amendment as we have it to-day.