June 13, 1866 the 14th amendment to the US constititutin was passed in Congress


14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868)

Passed by Congress June 13, 1866, and ratified July 9, 1868, the 14th amendment extended liberties and rights granted by the Bill of Rights to former slaves.

Following the Civil War, Congress submitted to the states three amendments as part of its Reconstruction program to guarantee equal civil and legal rights to black citizens. The major provision of the 14th amendment was to grant citizenship to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States,” thereby granting citizenship to former slaves. Another equally important provision was the statement that “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.” The right to due process of law and equal protection of the law now applied to both the Federal and state governments. On June 16, 1866, the House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the states. On July 28, 1868, the 14th amendment was declared, in a certificate of the Secretary of State, ratified by the necessary 28 of the 37 States, and became part of the supreme law of the land.

Congressman John A. Bingham of Ohio, the primary author of the first section of the 14th amendment, intended that the amendment also nationalize the Federal Bill of Rights by making it binding upon the states. Senator Jacob Howard of Michigan, introducing the amendment, specifically stated that the privileges and immunities clause would extend to the states “the personal rights guaranteed and secured by the first eight amendments.” Historians disagree on how widely Bingham’s and Howard’s views were shared at the time in the Congress, or across the country in general. No one in Congress explicitly contradicted their view of the Amendment, but only a few members said anything at all about its meaning on this issue. For many years, the Supreme Court ruled that the Amendment did not extend the Bill of Rights to the states.

Not only did the 14th amendment fail to extend the Bill of Rights to the states; it also failed to protect the rights of black citizens. One legacy of Reconstruction was the determined struggle of black and white citizens to make the promise of the 14th amendment a reality. Citizens petitioned and initiated court cases, Congress enacted legislation, and the executive branch attempted to enforce measures that would guard all citizens’ rights. While these citizens did not succeed in empowering the 14th amendment during the Reconstruction, they effectively articulated arguments and offered dissenting opinions that would be the basis for change in the 20th century.

(Information excerpted from Teaching With Documents [Washington, DC: The National Archives and Records Administration and the National Council for the Social Studies, 1998] p. 40.)

resource:

ourdocuments.gov

1868 … 14th Amendment ratified 1868


Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established.
Thus, began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.history.com

Separation of Powers ~ Constitution


Based on their experiences, the framers shied away from giving any branch of the new government too much power.

The separation of powers provides a system of shared power known as Checks and Balances.

Three branches are created in the Constitution.

The United States Constitution is deliberately inefficient.

The Separation of Powers devised by the framers of the Constitution was designed to do one primary thing: to prevent the majority from ruling with an iron fist. Based on their experience, the framers shied away from giving any branch of the new government too much power. The separation of powers provides a system of shared power known as Checks and Balances.

Three branches are created in the Constitution. The Legislative, composed of the House and Senate, is set up in Article 1. The Executive, composed of the President, Vice-President, and the Departments, is set up in Article 2. The Judicial, composed of the federal courts and the Supreme Court, is set up in Article 3.

Each of these branches has certain powers, and each of these powers is limited, or checked, by another branch.

For example, the President appoints judges and departmental secretaries. But these appointments must be approved by the Senate. The Congress can pass a law, but the President can veto it. The Supreme Court can rule a law to be unconstitutional, but the Congress, with the States, can amend the Constitution.

All of these checks and balances, however, are inefficient. But that’s by design rather than by accident. By forcing the various branches to be accountable to the others, no one branch can usurp enough power to become dominant.

The following are the powers of the Executive: veto power over all bills; appointment of judges and other officials; makes treaties; ensures all laws are carried out; commander in chief of the military; pardon power. The checks can be found on the Checks and Balances Page.

The following are the powers of the Legislature: Passes all federal laws; establishes all lower federal courts; can override a Presidential veto; can impeach the President. The checks can be found on the Checks and Balances Page.

The following are the powers of the Judiciary: the power to try federal cases and interpret the laws of the nation in those cases; the power to declare any law or executive act unconstitutional. The checks can be found on the Checks and Balances Page.

Historical Examples

Historically, the concept of Separation of Powers dates back as far as ancient Greece. The concepts were refined by contemporaries of the Framers, and those refinements influenced the establishment of the three branches in the Constitution.

Aristotle favored a mixed government composed of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, seeing none as ideal, but a mix of the three useful by combining the best aspects of each. In his 1656 Oceana, James Harrington brought these ideas up-to-date and proposed systems based on the separation of power. John Locke, in his 1690 Civil Government, second treatise, separated the powers into an executive and a legislature. Montesquieu’s 1748 Spirit of the Laws expanded on Locke, adding a judiciary. The framers of the Constitution took all of these ideas and converted the theories into practical applications.

When discussing Separation of Power, is it helpful to contrast the American System to the governments of other nations. This list below is far from a representative sample of nations or systems. The United States, Britain, France, Canada, and Mexico are actually more similar than they are different, especially when the whole range of nations is taken into account. However, sometimes the smaller differences between similar systems can be interesting and illustrative. It is left to the reader to conduct studies of more disparate systems.

Conclusions

Is the American system superior to any of these, or to any other, system of government? That depends on where you sit. The French and the British might scoff at the fact that our head of state, the President, has no power to make laws. They might cringe at the thought that judges can render the will of the people, in the form of a duly passed law, null and void. Canadians might think that state powers ought to be enumerated; Mexicans might marvel at the longevity of some career American politicians.

Americans might look with amusement at the institution of the British monarchy, and its continued hold, if only on paper, on Canada. Americans might cringe at the British thought of majority rule with no written constitution to be used as a guide or rule book. We might worry that the French Presidency has the potential to turn tyrannical by the misuse of emergency powers. We might worry that a Mexican judiciary, without lifetime tenure or a solid stare decisis system might lead to incoherent judicial policy.

But recall that each of these nations, and the hundred others in this world, have political and social traditions that sometimes date back a thousand years. Despite what Americans might think are odd institutions and traditions in France, Britain, Canada, Mexico, and elsewhere, these are all prosperous nations. The systems work in the context of each nation, even if the details could not work in some others.

Primary sources for this topic page are Comparative Politics by Gregory Mahler (Schenkman Publishing, 1983) and Comparative Politics by Gregory Mahler (Prentice Hall, 2000). Individual pages from Wikipedia and Canada in the Making were also helpful in keeping this page up to date.