14th Amendment Definition for Kids

14th Amendment Definition for Kids


While there is no question that all of the amendments to the United States Constitution are important, there is something particularly significant to the 14th Amendment. If you want to understand why the 14th Amendment is held in such high regard, there are several things about this element to the Constitution that you are going to want to keep in mind.

1. It Defined Rights For Slaves

Ratified in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was designed to protect the essential civil rights of slaves freed upon the conclusion of the Civil War. It was designed to address a wide variety of crucial rights, including citizen rights, equal protection through the law, due process, and the requirements of the states in regards to these things.

2. Connections To The Constitution

In terms of the number of words, the 14th Amendment is the longest amendment in the entire U.S. Constitution. The complete text of the amendment spells out the rights of citizens in no uncertain terms. Nonetheless, like many amendments to the constitution, it met with controversy upon its ratification, and it continues to be seen as controversial in some circles to this very day.

3. It Defines Citizenship

In terms of providing a definition to what it means to be a citizen of the United States, there is no question that the 14th Amendment is extraordinarily important. It states in no uncertain terms that someone who is born in the United States is therefore a United States citizen. From there, it stands to reason that this individual would also have the rights of citizens. This amendment made it clear that this concept extended to free slaves.

4. It Established The Requirements Of The States

Prior to the passing of the 14th Amendment, the Supreme Court stated that the Bill of Rights only worked for the federal government, rather than the state governments. The 14th Amendment made it absolutely clear that the states were required to follow the laws of the land established through the Bill of Rights, as well.

5. It Refused To Compensate Slave Owners

There are numerous elements to the 14th Amendment that prove to be absolutely fascinating and essential in equal measures. One of the most interesting aspects to the 14th Amendment concerns compensation to former slave owners. Amendment XIV makes it very clear to everyone indeed that slave owners were not going to be compensated in any regard for the loss of their slaves.