Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The citizenship provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment may be seen as a repudiation of one of the more politically divisive cases of the nineteenth century. Under common law, free persons born within a state or nation were citizens thereof. In the Dred Scott case,1 however, Chief Justice Taney, writing for the Court, ruled that this rule did not apply to freed slaves. The Court held that United States citizenship was enjoyed by only two classes of people: (1) white persons born in the United States as descendants of
persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognised as citizens in the several States, [and who] became also citizens of this new political body, the United States of America, and (2) those who, having been
born outside the dominions of the United States, had migrated thereto and been naturalized therein.2 Freed slaves fell into neither of these categories.
The Court further held that, although a state could confer state citizenship upon whomever it chose, it could not make the recipient of such status a citizen of the United States. Even a free man descended from a former slave residing as a free man in one of the states at the date of ratification of the Constitution was held ineligible for citizenship.3 Congress subsequently repudiated this concept of citizenship, first in section 14 of the Civil Rights Act of 18665 and then in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, Congress set aside the Dred Scott holding, and restored the traditional precepts of citizenship by birth.6