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Eighty-six years ago Representative Bingham of Ohio offered to the Joint Committee of Congress on Reconstruction language which has become ·the vital part of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Historians have called the Civil War the Second American Revolution. The Fourteenth Amendment, as Bingham proposed it and as the country adopted it, was a vital part of the Second American Constitution which that second American revolution had engendered. The Thirteenth Amendment had given a formal freedom to the slaves. It was the great purpose of the first section of the Fourteenth Amendment to carry on the task which the Thirteenth Amendment had begun ; in the popular phrase of the time, it sought to transform the recently freed men into genuine free men, enjoying the basic prerogatives of human status. To this end, the Amendment ordained that all men should be entitled to the great basic rights: to the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, to due process of law, and to the equal protection of the laws.
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