The 14th Amendment: Birthright Citizenship

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The primary purpose of including birthright citizenship in the fourteenth amendment was to ensure citizenship to freed slaves after the Civil War, which angered many confederate sympathizers and pro-slavery advocates. The status quo pre-Civil War deemed that African slaves were not citizens, but rather less than human. The very foundations of America legitimized treating slaves as fungible commodities rather than equal people. The earliest controversies of the United States focused on the value of African slaves. The legislative outcome of these controversies, the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787 ultimately sealed the fate of not only African slaves, but also any immigrant outsiders to forevermore be perceived as less than a white man. The Three-Fifths …show more content…
After a extensive history of excluding outsiders from the citizenship process and using citizenship as a justification for granting some rights while denying others’ rights, the fourteenth amendment finally granted birthright citizenship by stating “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.” This amendment radically reduced the ability for people to justify unequal legal treatment of freed slaves because it forced freed slaves be acknowledged as legal and valid citizens of the United States. However the amendment did not erase the anti-immigrant sentiment by any regard. Anti-slavery sentiment only strengthened after the passage of the fourteenth amendment, and even President Andrew Johnson openly opposed the amendment, believing it “stepped on states' rights to determine how African Americans should be treated.” The Fourteenth Amendment was a fundamental step into the shift away from the paradigm of excluding and oppressing ethnic minorities that was created through the Three-Fifths compromise and the Dred Scott Case. It brought legal protection to slaves and prevented people from circumventing the law through mechanisms such as Black Codes and sharecropping because the amendment guaranteed citizenship and constitutional protection for any birthright citizenship. Nevertheless, while the Fourteenth Amendment helped equalize the legislative protection of freed African slaves, controversy and ambiguity over the meaning of the amendment continued to manifest itself as immigrants continued to fight for their birthright

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