The Author of the 14th Amendment?

Stephen Neal

June 11, 1817 – June 23, 1905

The large, polished granite column topped with a bronze bust in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Lebanon, Indiana, commemorates the life of Stephen Neal.  Neal was a prominent citizen of Lebanon, serving as an attorney, represented Boone County in the Indiana State House, and later as circuit court judge. 

However, Neal is most remembered for his purported role in the drafting of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Various reports credited Neal with sending a draft he wrote of the 14th Amendment to Godlove S. Orth.  Orth was a former Indiana state legislator serving in the U.S. Congress in 1866 when the amendment was being considered. However, there is debate as to whether this claim is true or not. 

Amendment XIV

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.

The bust of Neal was sculpted by Clara Barth Leonard Dieman (1877-1959) who studied sculpture with the great artists Lorado Taft and Charles Mulligan at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Dieman’s career and life took her to many parts of the country where she pursued her craft in Illinois, Texas, Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and New Mexico where she spent the last part of her life.  One of Neal’s sons also gave a copy of the bust to the Indiana State Government, which is now on display in the Indiana State Capitol rotunda.

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