On July 28, 1868, former slaves became citizens when the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. Known as the "Reconstruction Amendment," it 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.
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