Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery, and with limited exceptions, such as those convicted of a crime, prohibits involuntary servitude. It was adopted on December 6, 1865.

At the time of its ratification, slavery remained legal only in Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey. Everywhere else in the United States slaves had been freed by state action or Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln and others were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be seen as a temporary war measure, and so, besides freeing slaves in those states where slavery was still legal, they supported the Amendment as a means to guarantee the permanent abolition of slavery.


cquote|Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


The first twelve amendments had been adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s creation and approval. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were passed in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the crises of secession and prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of bills passed by the Congress had protected slavery. There had been very little proposed legislation to abolish slavery. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James Falconer Wilson, (Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. Senator John Brooks Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, January 11, 1864. The abolition of slavery had, historically, been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was a War Democrat. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. Another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality on February 8 the same year. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson, and Henderson. [ [ Congressional Proposals and Senate Passage] Harper Weekly. The Creation of the 13th Amendment. Retrieved Feb. 15, 2007]

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James Falconer Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

After debating the amendment, the Senate passed it on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. Although they initially rejected the amendment, the House of Representatives passed it on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. President Abraham Lincoln signed a Joint Resolution, February 1, 1865, and submitted the proposed amendment to the states for ratification. Secretary of State William Henry Seward issued a statement verifying the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed legislation to abolish slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Approximately 40,000 slaves remaining in Kentucky were freed by the Thirteenth Amendment. [ [ Primary Documents in American History: The Thirteenth Amendment] Library of Congress. Retrieved Feb. 15, 2007]

While the Senate did pass the amendment in April 1864, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role to ensure its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill in January 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment's archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the "President of the Senate" [ [ Charters of Freedom - The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, The Bill of Rights ] ] , after the words "Approved February 1, 1865".

The Thirteenth Amendment was shortly followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states) and Fifteenth Amendment (which banned racial restrictions on voting).


Involuntary servitude

In "Butler v. Perry", ussc|240|328|1916, the Supreme Court ruled that the military draft was not "involuntary servitude".

Offenses against the Thirteenth Amendment have not been prosecuted since 1947. ["The 13th Amendment and the Lost Origins of Civil Rights" Risa Goluboff (2001) Duke Law Journal Vol 50 p. 1609. See section on Elizabeth Ingalls and Dora Jones. Refer to United States v. Ingalls, 73 F. Supp. 76, 77 (S.D. Cal. 1947) Southern District Court California] ["U.S. v. Ingalls", 73 F.Supp. 76 (1947) as cited by cite book|last=Traver|first=Robert|title=The Jealous Mistress|publisher=Little, Brown|year=1967|location=Boston]

Prior to 1988, inflicting involuntary servitude through psychologically coercive means was included in the interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment. In "United States v. Kozminski", ussc|487|931|1988, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment did not prohibit compulsion of servitude through psychological coercion. [ [ "Thirteenth Amendment--Slavery and Involuntary Servitude"] GPO Access, U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 1557] [ "The 13th Amendment and the Lost Origins of Civil Rights" Risa Goluboff (2001) Duke Law Journal Vol 50 p. 1609, n. 228] Psychological coercion had been the primary means of forcing involuntary servitude in the case of Elizabeth Ingalls in 1947. [United States v. Ingalls, 73 F. Supp. 76, 77 (S.D. Cal. 1947)] However, the Court held that there are exceptions. The court decision circumscribed involuntary servitude to be limited to those situations when the master subjects the servant to:(1) threatened or actual physical force, :(2) threatened or actual state-imposed legal coercion, or :(3) fraud or deceit where the servant is a minor, an immigrant or mentally incompetent.

The federal anti-slavery statutes were updated in the "Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000", P.L. 106-386, which expanded the federal statutes' coverage to cases in which victims are enslaved through psychological, as well as physical, coercion. [ Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Fact Sheet] [ [ Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act 2000] U.S. Department of State]

Free versus unfree labor

Labor is defined as work of economic or financial value. Unfree labor, or labor not willingly given, is obtained in a number of ways:
*causing or threatening to cause serious harm to any person;
*physically restraining or threatening to physically restrain another person;
*abusing or threatening to abuse the law or legal process;
*knowingly destroying, concealing, removing, confiscating or possessing any actual or purported passport or other immigration document, or any other actual or purported government identification document, of another person;
*causing or threatening to cause financial harm [using financial control over] to any person.

Definitions of conditions addressed by Thirteenth Amendment

;Peonage [ [ Peonage Section 1581 of Title 18] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statutes enforced] :Refers to a person in "debt servitude," or involuntary servitude tied to the payment of a debt. Compulsion to servitude includes the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion to compel a person to work against his or her will. ;Involuntary Servitude [ [ Involuntary Servitude Section 1584 of Title 18] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statues enforced] :Refers to a person held by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion in a condition of slavery – compulsory service or labor against his or her will. This also includes the condition in which people are compelled to work against their will by a "climate of fear" evoked by the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion (i.e., suffer legal consequences unless compliant with demands made upon them) which is sufficient to compel service against a person's will. The first U.S. Supreme Court case to uphold the ban against involuntary servitude was Bailey v. Alabama (1911).:Requiring specific performance as a remedy for breach of personal services contracts has been understood to be a form of involuntary servitude. [Oman, Nathan B.,Specific Performance and the Thirteenth Amendment. Minnesota Law Review, Forthcoming Available at SSRN: [] ] ;Forced Labor [ [ Forced Labor Section 1589 of Title 18] U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statues enforced. NB According to the Dept. of Justice, "Congress enacted § 1589 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), which interpreted § 1584 to require the use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion. Section 1589 broadens the definition of the kinds of coercion that might result in forced labor."] :Labor or service obtained by::*by threats of serious harm or physical restraint;:*by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause a person to believe they would suffer serious harm or physical restraint if they did not perform such labor or services::*by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process,


Threat of legal consequences

Victims of human trafficking and other conditions of forced labor are commonly coerced by threat of legal actions to their detriment. A leading example is deportation of illegal immigrants. "The prospect of being forced to leave the United States, no matter how degrading the current living conditions, sometimes serves as a deterrent to reporting the situation to law enforcement." [ [ The Color of Law] FBI Miami Civil Rights Program] Victims of forced labor and trafficking are protected by Title 18 of the U.S. Code [ [ Involuntary Servitude and Human Trafficking Initiatives] National Workers Exploitation Task Force FBI Miami Civil Rights Program]
*Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 - Conspiracy Against Rights: [ [ Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 - Conspiracy Against Rights] ]
*Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 - Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law: [ [ Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 - Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law] ]

Proposal and ratification

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several states by the Thirty-Eighth United States Congress, on January 31, 1865. The amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865, when Georgia ratified the amendment. It was declared, in a proclamation of Secretary of State William Henry Seward, dated December 18, 1865, to have been ratified by the legislatures of twenty-seven of the then thirty-six states. Although it was ratified by the necessary three-quarters of the states within a year of its proposal, its most recent ratification occurred in 1995 in Mississippi, which was the last of the thirty-six states in existence in 1865 to ratify it. The dates of ratification were: [cite web|url=|title=Ratification of Constitutional Amendments|accessmonthday=Feb 24|accessyear=2007|last=Mount|first=Steve|year=2007|month=Jan]
# Illinois (February 1, 1865)
# Rhode Island (February 2, 1865)
# Michigan (February 3, 1865)
# Maryland (February 3, 1865)
# New York (February 3, 1865)
# Pennsylvania (February 3, 1865)
# West Virginia (February 3, 1865)
# Missouri (February 6, 1865)
# Maine (February 7, 1865)
# Kansas (February 7, 1865)
# Massachusetts (February 7, 1865)
# Virginia (February 9, 1865)
# Ohio (February 10, 1865)
# Indiana (February 13, 1865)
# Nevada (February 16, 1865)
# Louisiana (February 17, 1865)
# Minnesota (February 23, 1865)
# Wisconsin (February 24, 1865)
# Vermont (March 8, 1865)
# Tennessee (April 7, 1865)
# Arkansas (April 14, 1865)
# Connecticut (May 4, 1865)
# New Hampshire (July 1, 1865)
# South Carolina (November 13, 1865)
# Alabama (December 2, 1865)
# North Carolina (December 4, 1865)
# Georgia (December 6, 1865)Ratification was completed on December 6, 1865. The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:
# Oregon (December 8, 1865)
# California (December 19, 1865)
# Florida (December 28, 1865, reaffirmed on June 9, 1869)
# Iowa (January 15, 1866)
# New Jersey (January 23, 1866, after having rejected it on March 16, 1865)
# Texas (February 18, 1870)
# Delaware (February 12, 1901, after having rejected it on February 8, 1865)
# Kentucky (March 18, 1976, after having rejected it on February 24, 1865)
# Mississippi (March 16, 1995, after having rejected it on December 5, 1865)

Earlier proposed Thirteenth Amendments

Twice before the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment, the Congress submitted to the States proposed Constitutional amendments that, if adopted, would have become the Thirteenth Amendment.

*Titles of Nobility Amendment, approved by the Congress in 1810, would have revoked the citizenship of anyone either (1) accepting a foreign title of nobility or (2) accepting any foreign payment without Congressional authorization.

*Corwin Amendment, approved by the Congress in 1861, would have forbidden any constitutional amendment that would interfere with slavery, or any "domestic institutions" in a state.



* [ Herman Belz, "Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era" (1978)]
* [ Mitch Kachun, "Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808-1915" (2003)]
* [ C. Peter Ripley, Roy E. Finkenbine, Michael F. Hembree, Donald Yacovone, "Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation" (1993)]
* [ Michael Vorenberg, "Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2001)]
* [ Model State Anti-trafficking Criminal Statute] U.S. Dept of Justice

See also

*Corwin Amendment — A proposed amendment that would have protected slavery
*Crittenden Compromise
*Lyman Trumbull
*Titles of Nobility Amendment — Alleged by some to be "the missing thirteenth amendment"
*Slave state

External links

* [
* [ Mr. Lincoln and Freedom: Thirteenth Amendment]
* [ Text, historic document and research on the amendment Proposing Abolition of Slavery]
* [ Thirteenth Amendment and related resources at the Library of Congress]
* [ National Archives: Thirteenth Amendment]
* [ Ghost Amendment: The Thirteenth Amendment that Never Was] (Description of the Corwin Amendment)
* [ CRS Annotated Constitution: Thirteenth Amendment]

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