Posted in American History, history, Politics

The Amendments: Thirteen

This is another amendment that is probably one of the more well known ones:

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


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


The thirteenth amendment outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude except in causes where one is found guilty of a crime (basically a prison sentence).  Many people believe that the Emancipation proclamation outlawed Slavery, but it didn’t.  It only outlawed it in states that had been disloyal to the union.  Which I have to wonder how they intended on enforcing that proclamation in that case.  However, a few politicians of the age recognized the issue, and decided a more formal amendment was needed.  That Slavery should be outlawed everywhere, and not just in the confederate states.

Several representatives submitted proposals, and they were combined and edited to get what you have above.  It was approved by congress in 1864, and within a year was ratified by the 3/5ths majority it needed to be.  Several states however rejected the amendment at first.  A few reversed their position within a few years, but a couple held out till the next century.

As of 1995, all the states who were states when the amendment was passed out for ratification have ratified it.  It is however surprising that it took them this long, or that they figured it was still worth looking at despite the fact that it was already ratified.  I’m sure the late arrivals felt the idea, even if it was a mute point as far as the amendment went, was still important to pass.

There are a few other amendments connected to this one, as it was realised that this amendment didn’t do enough.



A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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