Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Episode 653 (4-17-23): The 14th Amendment and Water-related Civil Rights Claims - Part 2: A Water Context for the Amendment’s First Supreme Court Interpretation (Episode Six of the Series, “Exploring Water in U.S. Civil Rights History”)

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (5:32).

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Extra Information

Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-14-23.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the weeks of April 17 and April 24, 2023.  This episode, the sixth in a series on water in U.S. civil rights history, continues our exploration of water connections to the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

MUSIC – ~23 sec – instrumental.

That’s part of “Mississippi Farewell,” by Dieter van der Westen.  It opens an episode on how Mississippi River water and public health were the context for the first U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the meaning and extent of the 14th Amendment.  One of three constitutional amendments passed and ratified soon after the Civil War, the 14th Amendment aimed to guarantee citizenship rights and legal protections, especially for newly freed Black people.  In 1873, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in three consolidated cases about wastes from livestock processing facilities in Louisiana; this ruling had decades-long implications for key parts of the 14th Amendment and for civil rights.  Have a listen to the music for about 25 more seconds, and see if you know the name of these consolidated Supreme Court cases.

MUSIC – ~27 sec – instrumental.

If you guessed The Slaughterhouse Cases, you’re right!  As of the 1860s, some 300,000 livestock animals were slaughtered annually at facilities along the Mississippi River in and around New Orleans, upstream of water supply intakes, with much of the untreated waste from the process reaching the river.  Concerns over the potential for diseases from this water contamination led the Louisiana legislature to pass the Slaughterhouse Act of 1869.  This law authorized a single corporation to operate one slaughterhouse facility on the Mississippi downstream of New Orleans and required all butchers in the area to use that facility.  Butchers’ organizations filed suit, alleging that the law infringed on their work rights in violation of the 14th Amendment’s clauses prohibiting states from abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States and from denying people equal protection of the laws.

On April 14, 1873, the Supreme Court issued its ruling, with the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Miller.  Miller’s opinion upheld the Louisiana law, finding that that the slaughterhouse monopoly granted by the state was within the police powers to provide for public health and sanitation.  Justice Miller went further, however, in asserting that the 14th Amendment gave the federal government jurisdiction only over federal, or national, citizenship rights—that is, privileges and immunities—but not over rights historically considered to result from state citizenship.  Miller also asserted that the amendment’s equal protection clause applied only to the case of Black people emancipated from slavery.  The Slaughterhouse Cases decision, along with other related Supreme Court decisions during the Reconstruction Era, created long-lasting legal barriers to federal government efforts against state-level violations of civil rights, such as racial and gender discrimination, voting restrictions, and failure to prevent or prosecute racially-motivated crimes of violence.

Thanks to Dieter van der Westen and Free Music Archive for making this week’s music available for public use, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “Mississippi Farewell.”

MUSIC – ~22 sec – instrumental.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close this episode.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“Mississippi Farewell,” from the 2022 album “Belin to Bamako,” was made available on Free Music Archive, online at at https://freemusicarchive.org/music/dieter-van-der-westen/berlin-to-bamako/mississippi-farewell/.  as of 4-12-23, for use under the Creative Commons License “Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International”; more information on that Creative Commons License is available online at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


Birds’ eye view of New Orleans in 1851.  Drawing by J. Bachman.  Image accessed from the Library of Congress’ Prints and Photographs Online Catalog, online at https://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/93500720, as of 4-18-23. 


The following information about, and text of, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was taken from National Archives, “Milestone Documents: 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868),” online at https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/14th-amendment.

“Following the Civil War, Congress submitted to the states three amendments as part of its Reconstruction program to guarantee equal civil and legal rights to Black citizens.  A major provision of the 14th Amendment was to grant citizenship to ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States,’ thereby granting citizenship to formerly enslaved people.

“Another equally important provision was the statement that ‘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 right to due process of law and equal protection of the law now applied to both the federal and state governments.

“On June 16, 1866, the House Joint Resolution proposing the 14th Amendment to the Constitution was submitted to the states.  On July 28, 1868, the 14th amendment was declared, in a certificate of the Secretary of State, ratified by the necessary 28 of the 37 States, and became part of the supreme law of the land.”

Text of 14th 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.

Section 2.

Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.

Section 3.

No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.

Section 4.

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


Used for Audio

Ashbrook Center at Ashland University, “Teaching American History/United States v. Cruikshank” undated, online at https://teachingamericanhistory.org/document/united-states-v-cruikshank/.

Jack Beatty, Age of Betrayal: The Triumph of Money in America, 1865-1900, Vintage Books, New York, N.Y., 2007.

Ronald M. Labbe and Jonathan Lurie, The Slaughterhouse Cases: Regulation, Reconstruction, and the Fourteenth Amendment, University of Kansas Press, Lawrence, 2003.

Danny Lewis, “The 1873 Colfax Massacre Crippled the Reconstruction Era,” Smithsonian Magazine, April 13, 2016.

Linda R. Monk, The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution, Hachette Books, New York, N.Y., 2015.

Oyez (Cornell University Law School/Legal Information Institute, Justia, and Chicago-Kent College of Law), “Slaughter-House Cases,” online at https://www.oyez.org/cases/1850-1900/83us36.

Melvin I. Urofsky and Paul Finkelman, A March of Liberty – A Constitutional History of the United States, Volume I: From the Founding to 1900, Third Edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K., 2011.

John R. Vile, “Slaughterhouse Cases (1873),” Middle Tennessee State University/The First Amendment Encyclopedia, online at https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/527/slaughterhouse-cases.

Other Sources on the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Cornell University Law School/Legal Information Institute:
“U.S. Constitution/14th Amendment,” online at https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/amendmentxiv; and
“Fourteenth Amendment,” online at https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fourteenth_amendment_0.

Thurgood Marshall Institute, “The 14th Amendment,” online at https://tminstituteldf.org/tmi-explains/thurgood-marshall-institute-briefs/tmi-briefs-the-14th-amendment/.

NAACP, “Celebrate and Defend the Fourteenth Amendment Resolution,” 2013, online at https://naacp.org/resources/celebrate-and-defend-fourteenth-amendment.

U.S. House of Representatives, “Constitutional Amendments and Major Civil Rights Acts of Congress Referenced in Black Americans in Congress,” online at https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Data/Constitutional-Amendments-and-Legislation/.

U.S. National Archives, “Milestone Documents: 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868),” online at https://www.archives.gov/milestone-documents/14th-amendment.

U.S. Senate, “Landmark Legislation: The Fourteenth Amendment,” online at https://www.senate.gov/about/origins-foundations/senate-and-constitution/14th-amendment.htm.

For More Information about Civil Rights in the United States

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), “The Civil Rights Movement in America,” online at https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zcpcwmn/revision/1.

Howard University Law Library, “A Brief History of Civil Rights in the United States,” online at https://library.law.howard.edu/civilrightshistory/intro.

University of Maryland School of Law/Thurgood Marshall Law Library, “Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights,” online at https://law.umaryland.libguides.com/commission_civil_rights.

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, online at https://www.usccr.gov/.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html).  See particularly the “History” subject category.

This episode is part of the series, Exploring Water in U.S. Civil Rights History.  As of April 17, 2023, other episodes in the series are as follows.

Series overview – Episode 566, 3-1-21.
Water Symbolism in African American Civil Rights History –
Episode 591, 8-23-21.
Uses of Water By and Against African Americans in U.S. Civil Rights History –
Episode 616, 2-14-22.
Water Places in U.S. Civil Rights History -
Episode 619, 3-7-22.
The 14th Amendment and Water-related Civil Rights Claims – Part 1: Introduction to the 14th Amendment – Episode 652, 4-3-23.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Civics Theme
3.12 – Importance of government in community, Virginia, and the United States, including government protecting rights and property of individuals.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.9 – How national events affected Virginia and its citizens.

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.9 – Causes, events, and effects of the Civil War.

United States History: 1865-to-Present Course
USII.3 – Effects of Reconstruction on American life.
USII.8 – Economic, social, and political transformation of the United States and the world after World War II.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.2 – Foundations, purposes, and components of the U.S. Constitution.
CE.3 – Citizenship rights, duties, and responsibilities.
CE.6 – Government at the national level.
CE.7 – Government at the state level.
CE.10 – Public policy at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia and United States History Course
VUS.7 – Knowledge of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras.

Government Course
GOVT.3 – Concepts of democracy.
GOVT.4 – Purposes, principles, and structure of the U.S. Constitution.
GOVT.5 – Federal system of government in the United States.
GOVT.7 – National government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – State and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – Public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.11 – Civil liberties and civil rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at https://www.doe.virginia.gov/teaching-learning-assessment/instruction.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20 – on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20 – on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20 – on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.
Episode 606, 12-6-21 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.