Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Overview

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and involuntary servitude
Involuntary servitude
Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion other than the worker's financial needs...

, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments
Reconstruction Amendments
The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War...

.

President Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in the border states or any other areas where slavery was still technically legal.




The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption.
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Encyclopedia

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 and involuntary servitude
Involuntary servitude
Involuntary servitude is a United States legal and constitutional term for a person laboring against that person's will to benefit another, under some form of coercion other than the worker's financial needs...

, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments
Reconstruction Amendments
The Reconstruction Amendments are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870, the five years immediately following the Civil War...

.

President Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in the border states or any other areas where slavery was still technically legal.

Text



History



The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights
United States Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights is the collective name for the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. These limitations serve to protect the natural rights of liberty and property. They guarantee a number of personal freedoms, limit the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and...

) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment
Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution, which was passed by the Congress on March 4, 1794, and was ratified on February 7, 1795, deals with each state's sovereign immunity. This amendment was adopted in order to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Chisholm v...

 in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment
Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the procedure for electing the President and Vice President. It replaced Article II, Section 1, Clause 3, which provided the original procedure by which the Electoral College functioned. Problems with the original procedure arose in...

 in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams was the sixth President of the United States . He served as an American diplomat, Senator, and Congressional representative. He was a member of the Federalist, Democratic-Republican, National Republican, and later Anti-Masonic and Whig parties. Adams was the son of former...

 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
James Mitchell Ashley
James Mitchell Ashley was a U.S. congressman, territorial governor and railroad president.-Early life:...

 (Republican
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 John B. Henderson
John B. Henderson
John Brooks Henderson was a United States Senator from Missouri and a co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution....

 of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 submitted a joint resolution
Joint resolution
In the United States Congress, a joint resolution is a legislative measure that requires approval by the Senate and the House and is presented to the President for his/her approval or disapproval, in exactly the same case as a bill....

 for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

. The Senate Judiciary Committee
United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary
The United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary is a standing committee of the United States Senate, of the United States Congress. The Judiciary Committee, with 18 members, is charged with conducting hearings prior to the Senate votes on confirmation of federal judges nominated by the...

, chaired by Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull was a United States Senator from Illinois during the American Civil War, and co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Education and early career:...

 (Republican, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

 (Radical Republican, Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. 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.

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for 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 on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. 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, after the words "Approved February 1, 1865".

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

 in the United States, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

 issued by President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment's adoption, selective enforcement
Selective enforcement
Selective enforcement is the ability that executors of the law have to arbitrarily select choice individuals as being outside of the law...

 of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy
Vagrancy (people)
A vagrant is a person in poverty, who wanders from place to place without a home or regular employment or income.-Definition:A vagrant is "a person without a settled home or regular work who wanders from place to place and lives by begging;" vagrancy is the condition of such persons.-History:In...

, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases. See also Black Codes.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment
Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...

 (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment
Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen's "race, color, or previous condition of servitude"...

 (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.

Involuntary servitude


In Selective Draft Law Cases, , the Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 ruled that the military draft
Conscription in the United States
Conscription in the United States has been employed several times, usually during war but also during the nominal peace of the Cold War...

 was not "involuntary servitude".

Offenses against the Thirteenth Amendment have not been prosecuted since 1947.

Psychological coercion had been the primary means of forcing involuntary servitude in United States v. Ingalls, 73 F. Supp. 76, 77 (S.D. Cal. 1947). However, in United States v. Kozminski
United States v. Kozminski
United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 was a United States Supreme Court case involving the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and involuntary servitude. It is a recent example of slavery in the United States.-External links:...

, , the Supreme Court ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment did not prohibit compulsion of servitude through psychological coercion. Kozminski limited involuntary servitude 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 Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, P.L. 106-386, updated the federal anti-slavery statutes to include victims who are enslaved through psychological coercion, even if there was no physical coercion.

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals
The United States courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system...

, in Immediato v. Rye Neck School District, Herndon v. Chapel Hill, and Steirer v. Bethlehem School District, have ruled that the use of community service
Community service
Community service is donated service or activity that is performed by someone or a group of people for the benefit of the public or its institutions....

 as a high school graduation requirement did not violate the Thirteenth Amendment.

Free versus unfree labor



Labor is defined as work of economic or financial value. Unfree labor
Unfree labour
Unfree labour includes all forms of slavery as well as all other related institutions .-Payment for unfree labour:If payment occurs, it may be in one or more of the following forms:...

 (i.e., 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;
  • blackmail;
  • causing or threatening to cause financial harm to any person—i.e., using financial control over a person.

Definitions of conditions addressed by Thirteenth Amendment


Peonage
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

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

Specific performance
Specific performance is an order of a court which requires a party to perform a specific act, usually what is stated in a contract. It is an alternative to award/ for awarding damages, and is classed as an equitable remedy commonly used in the form of injunctive relief concerning confidential...

 as a remedy for breach of personal services contracts has been understood to be a form of involuntary servitude.


Forced labor
Labor or service obtained by:
  • threats of serious harm or physical restraint;
  • 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:
  • 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. Victims of forced labor and trafficking are protected by Title 18 of the U.S. Code.
  • Title 18, U.S.C., Section 241 – Conspiracy Against Rights:

  • Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law:


Proposal and ratification


The Thirteenth Amendment was proposed by the Thirty-eighth United States Congress
38th United States Congress
-House of Representatives:Before this Congress, the 1860 United States Census and resulting reapportionment changed the size of the House to 241 members...

, on January 31, 1865. The amendment was adopted on December 6, 1865, when Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 ratified it. In a proclamation by Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 William Henry Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

, dated December 18, 1865, it was declared to have been ratified by the legislatures of twenty-seven of the then thirty-six states. The dates of ratification were:
  1. Illinois (February 1, 1865)
  2. Rhode Island (February 2, 1865)
  3. Michigan (February 3, 1865)
  4. Maryland (February 3, 1865)
  5. New York (February 3, 1865)
  6. Pennsylvania (February 3, 1865)
  7. West Virginia (February 3, 1865)
  8. Missouri (February 6, 1865)
  9. Maine (February 7, 1865)
  10. Kansas (February 7, 1865)
  11. Massachusetts (February 7, 1865)
  12. Virginia (February 9, 1865)
  13. Ohio (February 10, 1865)
  14. Indiana (February 13, 1865)
  15. Nevada (February 16, 1865)
  16. Louisiana (February 17, 1865)
  17. Minnesota (February 23, 1865)
  18. Wisconsin (February 24, 1865)
  19. Vermont (March 8, 1865)
  20. Tennessee (April 7, 1865)
  21. Arkansas (April 14, 1865)
  22. Connecticut (May 4, 1865)
  23. New Hampshire (July 1, 1865)
  24. South Carolina (November 13, 1865)
  25. Alabama (December 2, 1865)
  26. North Carolina (December 4, 1865)
  27. Georgia (December 6, 1865)

Ratification was completed on December 6, 1865. The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:
  1. Oregon (December 8, 1865)
  2. California (December 19, 1865)
  3. Florida (December 28, 1865, reaffirmed on June 9, 1869)
  4. Iowa (January 15, 1866)
  5. New Jersey (January 23, 1866, after having rejected it on March 16, 1865)
  6. Texas (February 18, 1870)
  7. Delaware (February 12, 1901, after having rejected it on February 8, 1865)
  8. Kentucky (March 18, 1976, after having rejected it on February 24, 1865)
  9. Mississippi (March 16, 1995, after having rejected it on December 5, 1865)

Earlier proposed Thirteenth Amendments


Each of two amendments proposed by the Congress would have become the Thirteenth Amendment if it had been ratified when originally proposed.
  • Titles of Nobility Amendment
    Titles of Nobility amendment
    The Titles of Nobility Amendment was proposed as an amendment to the United States Constitution in 1810. Upon approval of a resolution offered by U.S. Senator Philip Reed of Maryland, during the 2nd Session of the 11th Congress, TONA was submitted to the state legislatures for ratification...

    , proposed by the Congress in 1810 and ratified by twelve states, would have revoked the citizenship of anyone either (1) accepting a foreign title of nobility or (2) accepting any foreign payment without Congressional authorization.

  • The Corwin Amendment
    Corwin amendment
    The Corwin Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the 36th Congress, 2nd Session, on March 2, 1861, in the form of House Resolution No. 80...

     was passed by the House on March 1, 1861 and the Senate on March 3, 1861. President Buchanan signed it the same day, which was also his last full day in office; it was later ratified by three states: Ohio, Maryland and Illinois. This proposed amendment would have forbidden the adoption of any constitutional amendment that would have abolished or restricted slavery, or permitted the Congress to do so. This proposal was an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the Southern states
    Southern United States
    The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

     not to secede from the Union.


Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural address on March 4, 1861, specifically referenced the Corwin Amendment:

See also

  • Crittenden Compromise
    Crittenden Compromise
    The Crittenden Compromise was an unsuccessful proposal introduced by Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden on December 18, 1860. It aimed to resolve the U.S...

  • Missouri Compromise
    Missouri Compromise
    The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

  • Slave and free states
  • Slavery Abolition Act 1833, ending slavery in most of the British Empire
  • Lyman Trumbull
    Lyman Trumbull
    Lyman Trumbull was a United States Senator from Illinois during the American Civil War, and co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Education and early career:...

  • Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
    The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868, as one of the Reconstruction Amendments.Its Citizenship Clause provides a broad definition of citizenship that overruled the Dred Scott v...


External links