John Bingham: Father of the 14th Amendment

August 09, 2018


John Bingham was one of the most influential but least known visionaries of the post-Civil War Constitution. Dubbed “the James Madison of the 14th Amendment” by Justice Hugo Black, Bingham drafted a constitutional provision that changed the course of American history by ensuring that states were duty-bound to uphold their citizens’ constitutional rights. A moderate Republican and dedicated supporter of abolition before the Civil War, Bingham spearheaded the Reconstruction-era efforts to guarantee citizenship to all people born in the United States, regardless of race, and to extend the Constitution’s promise of equality to all American citizens.



Kurt Lash is the E. Claiborne Robins Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Richmond School of Law and the author of the book The Fourteenth Amendment and the Privileges or Immunities of American Citizenship.


Gerard Magliocca is the Samuel R. Rosen Professor at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and the author of the definitive biography of Bingham - American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Jeffrey Rosen is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Constitution Center, the only institution in America chartered by Congress “to disseminate information about the United States Constitution on a nonpartisan basis.” 

Additional Resources

Our Interactive Constitution is the leading digital resource about the debates and text behind the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution. Here, scholars from across the legal and philosophical spectrum interact with each other to explore the meaning of each provision of our founding document. 

The Citizenship Clause by Akhil Reed Amar and John C. Harrison

The Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause by Nathan S. Chapman and Kenji Yoshino

The Equal Protection Clause by Brian Fitzpatrick and Theodore M. Shaw

The Privileges or Immunities Clause by Akhil Reed Amar and John C. Harrison

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