The dubious origin of the fourteenth amendment


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The enactment of the legislature of the puppet government of Louisiana which ratified the Fourteenth Amendment is embodied in Act 2 of 1868. The legislative journals of that session reflect the presence of the military, all as provided for and contemplated by the Reconstruction Act.

The House Journal59 shows that on June 29, 1868, Colonel Batchelder opened the session by calling the roll and reading an extract from the order of General Grant. The Senate Journal60 for the same date shows the reading of instructions from General Grant to the Commanding Officer of the Fifth Military District emphasizing the supremacy of the power of the military over the provisional civilian government. It was under these auspices that the coerced ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in Louisiana was accomplished.

Even under the puppet government, created in Louisiana pursuant to the Reconstruction Act, the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in Louisiana was not unanimous. In the Senate61 on July 9, 1868, the vote on ratification was twenty yeas and eleven nays. The record contains a protest by Senator Bacon against voting upon ratification “under duress” imposed by the Reconstruction Act, and an unavailing appeal by that legislator for an opportunity for a “free and unrestrained” vote.

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