Fourteenth Amendment, an Extension of the Preamble of Constitution





Fourteenth Amendment, an Extension of the Preamble of Constitution

            The declaration of independence clearly stated that all men were created equal, had the unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. In 1778, Thomas Jefferson helped in drafting and supporting legislature that banned slavery in Virginia. He was one of the five people that had been given the task of drafting the declaration. The northern states banned slavery in their states and this caused a huge division between the northern and southern states. Congress banned the importation of slaves in 1808. Some of the abolitionists continued to protest against slavery. The tension between the northern and southern states led to the civil war in 1861. In 1866, congress passed the civil rights act, which overruled the black codes in the southern states. The act provided that any person who was born in the United States be considered an American citizen. It also provided full and equal rights of all American citizens. The act also proffered that it was illegal to deny someone citizenship because of their color or because they had been slaves. These provisions were included in the first section of the 14th amendment (Finkelman 234).

The first section of the fourteenth amendment states that, “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 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.” It was passed after the end of the civil war in 1868, and it was meant to guarantee the rights of freed slaves and other immigrants. The amendment protected the freed slaves from the states. Since then, the amendment has continued to guarantee individual rights. The Supreme Court has made decisions regarding cases under the 14th amendment that guarantees equal protection and applies due process. For instance, it used the amendment to rule against segregation in schools and argued that the separate but equal doctrine that was applied in schools violated the equal protection clause that was included in the amendment (McGuire 33). The amendment gave the blacks the right to own property and this property was protected by the law. The amendment has guaranteed blacks their rights and freedom. They can choose whichever career they want and they can work in any field. They can be employed in every sector and they have the right to the same education as the rest of the Americans. African Americans can testify in court against a person of any color without the fear of discrimination, threat or blackmail (Keynes 34).

The preamble states that, “We the people of the united states, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the united states of America.” The main purpose of the preamble is to show that the constitution was made for the people of America. When writing the preamble, the main intent of the founding fathers was to show why the government existed, and why the people should support it. It is more likely that the phrase “We the people” included the people who were eligible to vote. At this eliminated women, African Americans and other immigrants, since they did not have voting rights at the time (Conserva 8). The preamble states that the people aim to make the country perfect. The preamble intends to provide a constitution that is fair to all the people. This was made possible by the establishment of the judicial branch. The constitution established the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the land. There are also other lower courts such as the court of appeal and the district courts. It promises to make provisions in the constitution that will guarantee that the country maintains peace and protect the people. The preamble intends promises that the constitution will ensure freedom for the people and for the coming generations.

Although the preamble seems to include all the people by using the phrase “We the people”, it fails to give much details. The preamble does not explicitly state which people it intends to include in the constitution. There was a lot of inequality and discrimination in America during that time. Blacks, whether slaves or free were not considered equal. Although there were other minorities in the land, the black people were mostly taken as slaves and they often suffered the worst form of discrimination. One of the main contention in the preamble is the phrase “We the people”. Some people perceive that this means the citizens of United States. However, others contend that it referred to the founding fathers. This has limited the usage and scope of the preamble. This was rectified in the fourteenth amendment.

The 14th amendment guarantees the protection of all the Americans regardless of their color or disposition. It did not matter whether the blacks were free or not. The thirteenth amendment had already made provisions that made slavery illegal. The fourteenth amendment clearly stipulated that all people were to be treated equally. The preamble also states that it intends to make a constitution that would protect all the people and guarantee their freedom. This did not happen however, as black people were often killed for no apparent reason, other than the fact that they were black. The fourteenth amendment made sure that every ones individual right and freedom was guaranteed and protected. The amendment guarantees the right of every person to own property and it guarantees the protection of this property. The fourteenth amendment brought more clarity to the preamble because it was detailed, and it gave specific information. The 14th Amendment is an extension of the preamble, considering its Achievements and significance in American history.

Works Cited:

Conserva, Henry. Understanding the Constitution. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011

Finkelman, Paul. Encyclopedia of African American history, 1619-1895: from the colonial period to the age of Frederick Douglass, Volume 2. United Kingdom: OxfordUniversity Press, 2006

Independence Hall Association. Constitution of the United States. 2011. Web. 16 December 2011

Keynes, Edward. Liberty, Property, and Privacy: Toward a Jurisprudence of Substantive Due Process. PennState Press, 1996. print

Legal Information Institute. Preamble. CornellUniversityLawSchool. 2011. Web. !6 December 2011.

McGuire, Kent. Narrowing the Achievement gap in a (re)segregated Urban School District: Research, Practice, and Policy. Charlotte, NC: IAP, 2009. Print

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