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The Thirteenth Amendment

Jaryd Traaholt Junior Division Historical Paper

“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.”1 This statement is cited from the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the enactment that officially ended slavery. The Thirteenth Amendment was a crucial part towards the liberalization of the United States of America. It was a responsibility that led America into the free country that gave its people liberty and freedom no matter of race or origin. The act changed America into a place where all are equal. After the Revolutionary War, the United States did not enforce the words of the Declaration of Independence: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”2 The people who were enslaved had no unrestricted life, liberty, or pursuit for happiness. It was said that anyone within the borders of the United States of America could have freedom, yet eighty years later nothing has changed. The people of America wanted differently, and the creation of the Thirteenth Amendment was the solution to their problem. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was created. The Senate easily passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. However, on June 15, the House of Representatives failed to pass the amendment, with a vote of ninety-three to sixty-five. This was thirteen votes short of the two-thirds vote needed to continue. On January 31, 1865, with a new president, Abraham Lincoln, the House called another vote on the amendment. The amendment finally passed with a vote of 119 to fifty-six, barely reaching the required two-thirds


United States, Washington D.C.. Library of Congress.Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Washington D.C.: GPO, 2013. Web. 2, . "The Declaration of Independence."Declaration of Independence (2014): Web. 24 Feb 2014.


majority to pass the amendment. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed as an official amendment later that day. On February 1, 1865, the states started ratifying the amendment. It proposed freedom and liberty to all people, and further unified the United States. It could have possibly be one of the most significant laws of all time. One by one, the states started to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. Twenty-seven states ratified the amendment within a year, ranging from the northern state Illinois to the southern state Georgia. The other nine states eventually accepted the amendment, officially banning slavery in the United States of America. The new President, Andrew Johnson, personally oversaw the creation of new state governments throughout the South. He oversaw the arranging of state political agreements occupied by delegates whom he believed to be loyal. President Johnson hoped to prevent discussion over how to re-admit the southern states, though he believed he could quiet those who deny the Southern states place in the Union by pointing to how essential their agreement had been to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. However, many southerners broke the law by not giving up slavery, and were not dealt with for a long period of time. Some southern whites believed that they were superior to other races, and did not cease slavery for a long of time after the enactment. This said, the southerners thought before and after the amendment that slavery should be allowed for various reasons. Some of the reasons include debt for large slave owners, a way of life in America, feelings of superiority, and usefulness on labor-intensive crops like cotton and tobacco.3 Before the Thirteenth Amendment, there was a clear dispute on the acceptance of slavery in the United States. One half of America wanted to continue using slavery, the other half of America wanted to end slavery entirely. After the North continued on their pursuit of ending slavery and got closer to doing so, the South needed to do something to prevent a total loss of 3

Higgs, Robert. "Ten Reasons Not to Abolish Slavery." Our Economical Past. (2009): n. page. Web. 4 Mar. 2014.


slavery. The South separated from America, creating the Confederate States of America. Although they attempted to separate entirely, they were not recognized by any country as an individual country. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation became the first official act towards racial liberty, but was not as successful as hoped. Despite being an official enactment, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in ample ways. It was only effective on the loyal union states, as the border states still allowed slavery. The Confederate states did not even consider the act, as their main intention to separate from the United States was to continue to permit slavery. Although this act was unsuccessful at affecting all slaves nationally, it released a considerable amount of them.4 For another two years, the former slaves helped the Union in battle, further increasing the total count in their armed forces. After the Confederate States of America ceased, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865, and was ratified on December 6, 1865.5 Many enactments were negated including the Three-Fifths Compromise, which allowed three-fifths of the slave population to be counted in the United States House of Representatives. The Thirteenth Amendment allowed one hundred percent of the population to be counted for.6 In just five years, thirty-three of the thirty-six states accepted the amendment.7 This act utterly revised the way of life in America. The Thirteenth Amendment continued to reform the United States, cancelling numerous laws and acts toward the protection of slavery. The amendment officially freed all slaves in America. It authorized freedom and liberty to all 4

United States, Washington D.C.. National Archives.Emancipation Proclamation. Washington D.C.: GPO, Web. Constitution. Charters of Freedom. Washington D.C.: GPO, Print. 6 "The "Three-Fifths" Compromise." n.pag. African American Registry. Web. 28 Feb 2014. 7 United States, Washington D.C.. Library of Congress.Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Washington D.C.: GPO, 2013. Web. 5


enslaved, and prohibited any type of slavery to be used in the United States from then on. The Thirteenth Amendment released over four million slaves, nearly thirteen percent of the United States’ population.8 The movement of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution set many civil rights acts into motion. After slavery was abolished, Americans went one step further to eliminate all segregation between races. Many acts have been proposed and accept towards desegregation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 1871, 1964, 1968 and 1991.9 All these acts were for protection of African American civil rights and they enforced every act. Other acts included the Fair Employment Act of 1941, Equal Payment Act of 1963, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.10 All these acts moved civil rights further and further, slowly unraveling the path of racial discrimination in America. After over two hundred years, the United States of America became a completely different country then what was presented at its creation. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was the first step towards liberty. It was the first step towards a life of freedom and satisfaction, and toward bringing this country into place, into one of the freest countries in the world. Even though there is still some discrimination today, the Thirteenth Amendment changed antidiscrimination into equality.11 The Thirteenth Amendment was considerably the most influential act ever proposed in the United States of America, because of the effect it had on America two hundred years ago to the present day today. The act changed America into a place where all are equal.


United States, Washington D.C.. U.S. Census Bureau. Census of Population and Housing . 2013. Print. Staff, . "Civil Rights Act." (2010): Web. 28 Feb 2014. 10 "United States." List of anti-discrimination acts (2014): n.pag. Wikipedia. Web. 28 Feb 2014. 11 De Pinto, Jennifer, Sarah Dutton, et al. "Race Relations Today." 50 years after March on Washington: Americans' views on race. (2013): n. page. Web. 4 Mar. 2014. 9


A war was fought for freedom and liberty for everyone in the United States. The United States was completely unified for the first time in its history, due to the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Every law pertaining to slavery was arguably demolished, and every human in the United States were treated equally. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution started not only the cessation of slavery, but the beginning of civil rights. By the 1970’s, everyone in the United States had the right to have the life they want to have. The Thirteenth Amendment had a greater effect on America than many people know, and we would not have the civil rights that we have today without it.

Word Count: 1,501


Annotated Bibliography

Primary Sources Young, Jos. "Freedom Triumphant" New-York Tribune 1 February 1865: a1+. Print. This newspaper article discusses the abolishment of slavery due the Thirteenth Amendment. This article helped me greatly with various facts throughout the historical paper. Shelby, J. “Philadelphia Democracy--Liberalization Needed” The Daily Phoenix 27 April 1870: 2. Print. This newspaper article shows the South’s views on slavery before and after the amendment. The article helped me write sections based on what the Confederacy wanted, not just the Union. “Glory to God! The Constitutional Amendment Passed the House by a Vote of 119 to 56,” Fremont Journal 3 February 1865: a1+. Print. This newspaper article spoke about the second House of Representatives voting for the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It helped me with the third paragraph, where I wrote about the ratification of the amendment. “The Constitutional Amendment,” The Daily Phoenix 14 December 1865: 1. Print. This newspaper article tells about the South’s views on the Thirteenth Amendment Secondary Sources Spreckels, John “Negro Peonage” The San Francisco Call 31 October 1903: 8. Print. This article wrote about amendments and their effects. This helped with a most of the sentences around the fourth page, and part of the fifth. Hoemann, George H. “What God Hath Wrought: The Embodiment of Freedom in the Thirteenth Amendment.” New York: Garland Pub., 1987 Holzer, Harold, and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, eds. “Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment.” Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007. Maltz, Earl M. “Civil Rights, the Constitution, and Congress,” 1863-1869. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas, 1990. Tsesis, Alexander, ed. The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.


“The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom: A Legal History”. New York: New York University Press, 2004. Vorenberg, Michael. “Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment.” Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001



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