The Fourteenth Amendment
August 5, 1868
The passing of the 14th amendment's validity is in question in the reconstructed states because it was passed by a provisional government.
The Fourteenth Amendment. - It is amusing to read in the New York Times, which claims to be a leading journal, that the proclamation of Mr. Seward settles the question of the validity of the ratification of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution. We do not choose to add aught to what we have heretofore said to the contrary ; but we will state that a writer in the last issue of the New York World reaffirms all that we have said upon the subject, and makes in addition the following good points: The Legislatures by which the proposed amendment was ratified in the so-called reconstructed States were in no sense such as are authorized to act in amending the Constitution. They did not possess the power expressly granted by that document to the Legislature of a State - viz., to elect two senators to the United States Senate. They were not coordinate branches of free government, not only totally independent of the United States in all matters relating to their existence and duration, but entitled to " an agency in the formation of the Federal Government itself." On the contrary, they formed part of a civil government, declared by the reconstruction act " to be provisional only, and in all respects subject to the paramount authority of the United States at any time to abolish, modify , control, or supersede the same." Is it not clear, then, that the ratification of the amendment by the Legislatures of those bastard governments, forced upon the southern States by Congress at the point of the bayonet, is altogether null and void ? The exultation of the Times, therefore, over the fact that the fourteenth amendment had become part of the fundamental law of the land was, to say the least, a little premature, for if the Constitution is to be our guide, - and it will be after the election of Seymour and Blair - the proposed article has not yet been adopted, whether the reconstruction act be valid or not.
About this article
“The Fourteenth Amendment,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed March 23, 2019, http://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1092.