14th Amendment Lesson for Kids: Definition & Summary

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  • 0:04 14th Amendment
  • 0:49 Effect on the Bill of Rights
  • 1:40 Effect on the South
  • 2:17 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

There are lots of rights and privileges that Americans enjoy as citizens of the country, but have you ever wondered what makes a citizen? This lesson will teach you about the 14th Amendment, which provides U.S. citizens with certain rights.

14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, is the longest amendment in the U.S. Constitution. Ratified means that it was officially approved and signed into law. The most important part of the amendment is its clear definition of citizenship. Citizenship defines in what country you can legally live, work, vote, and pay taxes. The 14th Amendment gives citizenship rights to anyone who was born in the United States. It also states that once a person has been granted citizenship, it cannot be taken away unless that person lied to get it in the first place.

After the American Civil War, this definition was very important to African-American slaves that were born in the United States. It provided them with instant citizenship and allowed them to legally live and work in the country.

Effect on the Bill of Rights

Defining a citizen is not the only thing that the 14th Amendment covers; it also makes sure that citizens in different states are given certain rights as well. Until the 14th Amendment was ratified, the Bill of Rights only applied to the federal government. When it was added to the U.S. Constitution, the 14th Amendment made sure that the Bill of Rights applied to all state governments, as well as the federal government.

The 14th Amendment also gave citizens the right of due process. Due process means that citizens receive fair treatment throughout the court system and under the laws, both at the federal and state levels. The 14th Amendment also gives people equal protection under that law. This means that it doesn't matter what gender, race, or religion you are, you must be treated fairly by the courts.

Finally, the 14th Amendment defines the number of state representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. These numbers are based on the states' populations.

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