On this day in 1868, Secretary of State William H. Seward issued his official proclamation certifying the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, after Georgia became the 30th state to ratify the amendment.

The Fourteenth was the middle of the three “Reconstruction Amendments” passed following the Civil War. The Thirteenth Amendment did away with slavery and involuntary servitude; The Fifteenth Amendment prohibited discrimination in voting based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude”; and the Fourteenth Amendment addresses citizenship rights and equal protection under the law. It casts a broad net — and has probably resulted in more litigation than any other section of the Constitution. A document from the Government Printing Office (GPO) explaining “Rights guaranteed, privileges and immunities of citizenship, due process and equal protection” under the Fourteenth Amendment runs 378 pages.

A quick look at some highlights:

The Citizenship Clause (Section one) defines who is a citizen in the United States and nullifies the Dred Scott decision, which said slaves were property and as such had no rights.

Section Four says neither the country nor states will pay the debts “incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States.” In other words, if you bet on the Confederates States of America, too bad, you lost.

Section Three says anyone who had taken an oath of office to support the United States, then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same”, if forbidden from holding public office. This section has attracted a lot of interest since January 6th.

Here is the amendment in full:

Amendment XIV (1868)

Section 1. 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.

Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

Section 3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.