Timeline Description: The 14th Amendment is one of the three Reconstruction amendments. One of its main clauses is that anyone born in or naturalized in the United States is a United States citizen, granting citizenship to slaves and former slaves.
|March 1857||The Dred Scott Decision declares that no African Americans can ever be citizens of the United States.
After a slave named Dred Scott sued for his freedom, the United States Supreme Court ruled that neither Scott nor any other African American was legally a U.S. citizen. Scott lost the case because as a non-citizen, he did not have a legal right to sue.
|December 13, 1865||The Joint Committee on Reconstruction is formed.
With the Civil War over and the nation faced with integrating former slaves into society, the Joint Committee on Reconstruction is formed. The 15-man committee would write the 14th Amendment.
|December 18, 1865||The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery.
After a bitter fight, the 13th Amendment is formally adopted. The first of the Reconstruction Amendments made slavery illegal in the United States.
|April 9, 1866||The Civil Rights Act of 1866 passes.
Despite President Andrew Johnson's veto, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 passes, giving citizenship rights to anyone born in the U.S. citizenship. However, civil rights activists were concerned that the Act was not permanent and chose to fight for a constitutional amendment.
|June 13, 1866||Congress passes the 14th Amendment.
The 14th Amendment passes through Congress. It still must be ratified by three-quarters of the states in order to be adopted and become part of the Constitution.
|June 25, 1866||Connecticut becomes the first state to ratify the amendment.
Connecticut ratifies the 14th Amendment. It is the first state to do so. New Hampshire ratifies two weeks later.
|July 7, 1866||Tennessee becomes the first Confederate state to ratify the amendment.
Tennessee ratifies the 14th Amendment, becoming the first southern state to do so. The remaining southern states refuse to ratify.
|February 7, 1867||Delaware rejects the 14th Amendment.
Delaware fails to ratify the 14th Amendment, becoming the first state outside of the former Confederate States of America to reject it. Delaware would eventually ratify the amendment in 1901.
|March 2, 1867||Congress passes Reconstruction Acts.
With all southern states other than Tennessee refusing to ratify the 14th Amendment, the federal government passes the Reconstructions Acts, dividing the South into five military zones. Former Confederate states are required to ratify the amendment to be allowed back into the Union.
|July 9, 1868||Louisiana and South Carolina ratify the amendment.
Louisiana and South Carolina ratify the 14th amendment. This gives the amendment the necessary three-fourths of the states to ratify.
|July 28, 1868||The 14th Amendment becomes part of the Constitution.
Secretary of State William Seward announces that the 14th Amendment has been ratified and is now part of the Constitution. It would be over a century before all states ratify the amendment.
|March 28, 1898||The Supreme Court confirms that everyone born in the U.S. is a citizen in United States vs. Wong Kim Ark.
After Wong Kim Ark is denied re-entry into United States, he successfully sues in 1898 on the basis that his constitutional rights were violated. He was born in San Francisco to Chinese immigrants and based his defense on the 14th Amendment.
|May 17, 1954||Brown vs. Board of Education rules segregated schools violates the 14th Amendment.
Citing the Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court rules in Brown vs. Board of Education that it is unconstitutional to segregate public schools. The court's decision overturns Plessy vs. Ferguson of 1896, which ruled that segregation in schools was constitutional.
|March 18, 1976||Kentucky ratifies the 14th Amendment.
One hundred and ten years after the 14th Amendment is proposed by Congress, Kentucky ratifies it. Kentucky, a strong pro-slavery state prior to the Civil War, also ratifies the 13th and 15th Amendments on this day.
|September 17, 2003||Ohio becomes the final state to ratify the 14th Amendment.
After the state rescinded its ratification in 1867, the state of Ohio becomes the last state in the Union to ratify the 14th Amendment. Ratification was rescinded in 1867 when Republicans lost control of the state legislature.