On This Day, July 28, 1869 – 14th Amendment Gives Rights to Former Slaves

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1868 – Following its ratification by the necessary three-quarters of U.S. states, the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing to African Americans citizenship and all its privileges, is officially adopted into the U.S. Constitution.

Two years after the Civil War, the Reconstruction Acts of 1867 divided the South into five military districts, where new state governments, based on universal manhood suffrage, were to be established. Thus began the period known as Radical Reconstruction, which saw the 14th Amendment, which had been passed by Congress in 1866, ratified in July 1868. The amendment resolved pre-Civil War questions of African American citizenship by stating that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States…are citizens of the United States and of the state in which they reside.” The amendment then reaffirmed the privileges and rights of all citizens, and granted all these citizens the “equal protection of the laws.”

In the decades after its adoption, the equal protection clause was cited by a number of African American activists who argued that racial segregation denied them the equal protection of law. However, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Plessy v. Ferguson that states could constitutionally provide segregated facilities for African Americans, so long as they were equal to those afforded white persons. The Plessy v. Ferguson decision, which announced federal toleration of the so-called “separate but equal” doctrine, was eventually used to justify segregating all public facilities, including railroad cars, restaurants, hospitals, and schools. However, “colored” facilities were never equal to their white counterparts, and African Americans suffered through decades of debilitating discrimination in the South and elsewhere. In 1954, Plessy v. Ferguson was finally struck down by the Supreme Court in its ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.


1821 – Peru declared its independence from Spain.

1865 – The American Dental Association proposed its first code of ethics.

1866 – The metric system was legalized by the U.S. Congress for the standardization of weights and measures throughout the United States.

1896 – The city of Miami, FL, was incorporated.

1914 – World War I officially began when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

1932 – Federal troops forcibly dispersed the “Bonus Army” of World War I veterans who had gathered in Washington, DC. They were demanding money they were not scheduled to receive until 1945.

1941 – Plans for the Pentagon were approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

1942 – L.A. Thatcher received a patent for a coin-operated mailbox. The device stamped envelopes when money was inserted.

1945 – A U.S. Army bomber crashed into the 79th floor of New York City’s Empire State Building. 14 people were killed and 26 were injured.

1951 – The Walt Disney film “Alice in Wonderland” was released.

1965 – U.S. President Lyndon Johnson announced he was increasing the number of American troops in South Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000.


1978 – National Lampoon’s Animal House, a movie spoof about 1960s college fraternities starring John Belushi, opens in U.S. theaters. Produced with an estimated budget of $3 million, Animal House became a huge, multi-million-dollar box-office hit, spawned a slew of cinematic imitations and became part of pop-culture history with such memorable lines as “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”


1982 – San Francisco, CA, became the first city in the U.S. to ban handguns.

1991 – Dennis Martinez (Montreal Expos) pitched the 13th perfect game in major league baseball history.

1994 – Kenny Rogers (Texas Rangers) pitched the 14th perfect game in major league baseball history.

1998 – Bell Atlantic and GTE announced $52 billion deal that created the second-largest phone company.

1998 – Monica Lewinsky received blanket immunity from prosecution to testify before a grand jury about her relationship with U.S. President Clinton.

2006 – Researchers announced that two ancient reptiles had been found off Australia. The Umoonasaurus and Opallionectes were the first of their kind to be found in the period soon after the Jurassic era.

Source: On-This-Day.com; Hiistory.com