The 11th, 13th, 14th & 16th Amendments of the US Constitution

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  • 0:01 Terms & Definitions
  • 0:44 11th Amendment
  • 1:25 13th Amendment
  • 2:01 14th Amendment
  • 2:48 16th Amendment
  • 3:16 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will define the 11th, 13th, 14th, and 16th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. It will define the terms amendment and ratify, while also highlighting the clauses of the 14th Amendment.

Terms and Definitions

Unlike many, U.S. citizens actually have a document that protects them from their government. It's the U.S. Constitution. Not only do they have this, they have 27 amendments added to it! Today we'll take a look at four of these amendments: the 11th, 13th, 14th, and 16th Amendments. Since they can be hard to keep straight, we're going to use the actual number ten and a little addition.

First, let's give some definitions. Stated pretty simply, an amendment is a modification to the U.S. Constitution. When we say an amendment has been ratified, we mean that it's been signed and made official.

11th Amendment

Keeping this in mind, let's start with the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The 11th Amendment establishes that a citizen of one state cannot sue another state. Ratified in 1795, it added to the sovereignty of individual states. Using a silly argument, let's say Pennsylvania didn't allow rock music but New Jersey did.

A citizen from New Jersey could not sue Pennsylvania because they thought their law was unconstitutional. Since it's not their state, it's none of their business. Trying to remember the 11th, we can say that amendment 10 + 1 = out of state lawsuits are done!

13th Amendment

The 13th Amendment is a monumental one. Coming to being during the tumultuous Civil War era, it officially abolished slavery. Ratified in 1865, it changed the course of American history. To remember its vast effect, we'll add number 10 + 3 = you're finally free!

Sadly, many were incensed by the 13th Amendment. Although they had to free their slaves, they had no intention of treating them equally. To fight this horribly prejudicial stance, the 14th Amendment came to be.

14th Amendment

The 14th Amendment guarantees equal rights to every citizen of every state in the union. Ratified in 1868, it's comprised of three very similar clauses. It includes the Privilege Clause, which declares a state can't infringe upon the federal rights of any of its citizens. It also incorporates the Due Process Clause, which declares that every citizen will receive fair treatment under the law. Parallel to the first two, it also includes the Equal Protection Clause. This one forbids any state from denying equal protection to any citizen. Putting the 14th in a nutshell, it all adds up to number 10 + 4 = your freedom is secure!

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