Citizenship, Immigration and National Identity: Civic Education on the Sesquicentennial Anniversary of the 14th Amendment

Speaker: Dr. James D. Anderson

Center for Advanced Study 28th Annual Lecture

In the aftermath of the Civil War, Congress passed the landmark amendments to the Constitution (13th, 14th and 15th) that ended slavery, defined citizenship, guaranteed equal protection of the laws and expanded the right to vote to all male citizens. This series of Constitutional transformations have come to be known as our country’s “Second Founding,” giving our nation what President Lincoln promised at Gettysburg, “a new birth of freedom. During this “Second Founding,” the questions of citizenship and immigration struck at the core of definitions of freedom, liberty, equality and national identity.

Then and now, debates over citizenship and immigration have raised the controversial questions of who is entitled to be a citizen, who should be allowed to enter the United States, how they should be treated when they do enter, can they be assimilated into the American way of life, and what are the social consequences of birthright and naturalized citizenship. In fact, contemporary disputes over citizenship and immigration are occurring on the 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment and reflect deep-seated concerns about national identity that have zigzagged throughout the American experience, reminding us that the “Second Founding” remains in the words of historian Eric Foner an “unfinished revolution.”

Reception to follow.

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