Equal Rights Made the Law of the Land 1866

Although the Declaration of Independence stated the Founders’ belief “that all men are created equal,” the Constitution did not guarantee full equality. That changed when the 14th Amendment was ratified on July 28, 1868. The major provision of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to “All persons born or naturalized in the United States.” Thus it spelled out the status of newly freed slaves—they were to be equal citizens under the law. It also assured all citizens of “due process of law” and “equal protection of the laws.”