SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – Until the 14th Amendment passed three years after the end of the Civil War, the claims freedom and equality of all men in America were hollow to one segment of Americans.
Often referred to as the "Great Amendment," the 14th provided citizenship to freed slaves. It helped protect their rights, which were being violated by the rise of black codes, by stating that all people who were born in the United States are considered natural citizens and have the same rights as all other Americans.
States were prohibited from making or enforcing any laws that took away or hurt an individual's civil rights.
"The 14th Amendment is probably the most complex amendments in the Constitution because it did a number of things and its meaning had changed over the decades,'' says Armstrong Atlantic State History professor Dr. Chris Hendricks. "It's supposed to guarantee civil rights, but it says a state cannot violate an individual's civil rights. Well, what about the city of Savannah? What about Chatham County? What about this business down the street?''
While the amendment did clarify those discrepancies, it also introduced the word 'male' to the Constitution, contributing to the eventual need for the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.