Laws and history have always gone hand and hand or is it the other way around?  The 14th amendment has been no stranger to this conundrum although the interpretation of the amendments meaning has changed over the past century and a half.

Let’s take a look back to the roots of the 14th amendment.  The 14th amendment is considered one of The Civil War Amendments as are the 13th amendment and 15th amendment.  These amendments were drafted during the Reconstruction Period in effort to give former slaves the same rights as white males in The United States.  These new amendments represented a shift in American values as they entered the post-Civil War Era.  It would however take more than just these written laws to change the moral values of some Americans. 

As you have traveled through AP US History as a staff writer you have seen some examples of injustice towards certain groups and individuals due to cultural, political, and moral shifts and beliefs in our society. Can you think of some examples? Recall injustices on such groups as African Americans, women, Native Americans, Latinos, Japanese-Americans and Arab Americans.  Most recently the rights of certain immigrant groups and homosexuals have come into question as you may have seen in the news recently.  Sadly, the 14th amendment has not always been interpreted to extend rights to all citizens equally.

Here in the 21st century we can take the time to reflect upon how the 14th amendment has been interpreted over time and take a deeper look at the history surrounding the issues.  As a staff writer for AP US History, you have a critical role in reporting how history has shaped the present by making historical connections over time.  Have laws shaped history or has history shaped laws?