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The present article focuses on the ratification debate in North Carolina. That debate is instructive for several reasons. In the first place, the legislature considered the amendment on two separate occasions. In December 1866, the legislature overwhelmingly rejected it. Little more than eighteen months later, a new legislature overwhelmingly endorsed it. Second, North Carolinians fought several political battles between 1866 and 1868, and in those battles they often debated the meaning of the fourteenth amendment. Third, North Carolinians adopted a new constitution in 1868 and thereafter enacted reform legislation, much of which reflected their understanding of the concepts embodied in the fourteenth amendment. Finally, North Carolinians throughout this period argued incessantly about two topics critical to any understanding of the fourteenth amendment: the status of blacks and the relationship between the national and state governments.