Just before the start of the Civil War, and all throughout it, a number of legislative and legal actions were taking place to grant emancipated slaves equal rights to the white citizens. The Civil Rights Act of 1866 was one; the granting of citizenship to freed slaves was another. A clause inserted into the constitution guaranteeing “due process,” and another for “equal protection” were borne out of court cases. All those were organized into one sweeping constitutional amendment, passed just after the Civil War.
On this day, July 9, in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was passed, granting equal civil and legal rights to African Americans and slaves emancipated after the Civil War.
The 14th Amendment did make one exception to the rule: American Indians. As a subsequent Supreme Court case ruled, Indians did not have allegiance to the United States anymore than the “children of ministers, consuls, and citizens of foreign states born within the United States.” Congress did vote to give Indians full citizenship later, in 1924.