William Seward Certifies That The Fourteenth Amendment Is A Part Of The Constitution

On July 28, 1868, Secretary of State William Seward issued a proclamation certifying without reservation that the Fourteenth Amendment was a part of the United States Constitution.

The required number of states had ratified the Fourteenth Amendment a few weeks earlier on July 9, 1868. Known as one of the "Reconstruction Amendments" along with the Thirteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the Fourteenth Amendment forbids any state to deny to any person "life, liberty or property, without due process of law" or to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws." With its broadly phrased language, the Fourteenth Amendment continues to provide a basis for civil rights claims in the United States.

Ohio passed a resolution that purported to withdraw its ratification on January 15, 1868. The New Jersey legislature also tried to rescind its ratification on February 20, 1868. The New Jersey governor had vetoed his state's withdrawal on March 5, and the legislature overrode the veto on March 24. Accordingly, on July 20, 1868, Secretary of State William H. Seward certified that the amendment had become part of the Constitution if the rescissions were ineffective. The Congress responded on the following day, declaring that the amendment was part of the Constitution and ordering Seward to promulgate the amendment.

the right to pursue any lawful trade or avocation, without other restraint than such as equally affects all persons, is one of the privileges of citizens of the United States which can not be abridged by state legislation.”

— Stephen Johnson Field, Joseph P. Bradley, and Noah Haynes Swayne