Evolution of the national citizenry

  • 1790: Naturalization Act of 1790

    This 1790 act set the new nation's naturalization procedures. It limited access to U.S. citizenship to white immigrants—in effect, to people from Western Europe—who had resided in the U.S. at least two years and their children under 21 years of age. It also granted citizenship to children born abroad to U.S. citizens.
  • 1857: Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Missouri's Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857. In its 1857 decision that stunned the nation, the United States Supreme Court upheld slavery in United States territories, denied the legality of black citizenship in America, and declared the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional.
  • 1868: Fourteenth Amendment

    Passed by the Senate on June 8, 1866, and ratified two years later, on July 9, 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship to all persons "born or naturalized in the United States," including formerly enslaved people, and provided all citizens with “equal protection under the laws,” extending the provisions of the Bill of Rights to the states
  • 1870: Fifteenth Amendment

    Once the 15th Amendment was ratified, AERA could then push for a separate amendment for women's suffrage. On the other hand, prominent voices such as Anthony and Stanton argued that any constitutional amendment that did not grant women's suffrage was unacceptable.
  • 1882: Chinese Exclusion Act

    It was the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States. In the spring of 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Chester A. Arthur. This act provided an absolute 10-year ban on Chinese laborers immigrating to the United States.
  • 1898: United States v. Wong Kim Ark

    United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898) is the Supreme Court ruling that determined the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted birthright citizenship to all persons born in the United States regardless of race or nationality.
  • 1924: Indian Citizenship Act

    Indian Citizenship Act. On June 2, 1924, Congress enacted the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted citizenship to all Native Americans born in the U.S. The right to vote, however, was governed by state law; until 1957, some states barred Native Americans from voting.
  • 1942: Executive Order 9066

    Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issues Executive Order 9066, leading to the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans. This action highlights systemic discrimination and the denial of civil rights based on ethnicity during World War II.
  • 1952: Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (McCarran-Walter Act)

    The McCarran-Walter Act removes racial restrictions on naturalization but maintains discriminatory quotas based on nationality. This legislation continues to restrict immigration from certain regions and perpetuates unequal treatment based on ethnicity and national origin.
  • 1960s-1970s: Civil Rights Movement

    The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and 1970s results in various legislative achievements, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. These laws dismantle segregationist policies and protect the civil rights of African Americans and other minority groups, advancing the cause of equal citizenship rights.
  • 1965: Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments

    The amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolish the national origins quota system, prioritizing family reunification and skilled immigrants. This reform leads to increased diversity and inclusivity in immigration policy, opening the doors to immigrants from all over the world.
  • 2000s-Present: Immigration and Citizenship Debates

    Ongoing debates over immigration policy and citizenship rights continue to shape public discourse. Issues such as undocumented immigration, refugee resettlement, and the rights of marginalized communities remain central topics of discussion in contemporary American society.