In our own time, these brief histories suggest, it is possible to return to the Fourteenth Amendment for lessons — contingencies, cautionary tales, models of struggle, and to access its yet untapped possibilities. “Amendment XIV,” National Constitution Center, accessed July 7, 2018, https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-xiv.In this roundtable, Christopher Bonner and Andrew Diemer explain the origins of Section 1, which provided generally that all persons born in the United States were citizens of the United States.
In our own time, these brief histories suggest, it is possible to return to the Fourteenth Amendment for lessons — contingencies, cautionary tales, models of struggle, and to access its yet untapped possibilities.
There is little surprise then that struggles for equality did not end in 1868.
And as we appear fated to revisit the amendment in political and policy terms in the coming months and years, they propose that we enter this debate well equipped with a sense of the history out of which it emanated.
The Fourteenth Amendment’s birthright citizenship clause was the culmination of black activism, but it did not go far enough.
Astor urges us to return to these and other “overlooked” sections of the Fourteenth Amendment. Together, these essays make the case that the Fourteenth Amendment, even at the moment of its ratification, was neither inevitable nor unassailable.
Recalling its intent and effect in the nineteenth century tells us that the amendment was both monumental and constrained, and a site of on-going contestation over what it meant to be a member of this nation.