Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
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The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed it to have been adopted. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted during and after the American Civil War.
Slavery had been tacitly protected in the original US Constitution through clauses such as the Three-Fifths Compromise, in which three-fifths of the slave population would be counted for congressional representation. Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, no amendment to the Constitution had been successfully ratified in more than sixty years. Though many slaves had been declared free by Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain. The Senate passed an Amendment to abolish slavery April 8, 1864; after one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by all Union states save for Delaware, New Jersey, and Kentucky, and by a sufficient number of border and "reconstructed" Southern states to be adopted by the end of the year.
The amendment abolished chattel slavery throughout the United States, though Black Codes and selective enforcement of statutes such as vagrancy laws continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South. The Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law, and no offenses have been prosecuted under it since 1947.
- Section 1. 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.
- Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
Slavery in the United States
Slavery existed in every colony. The United States Constitution of 1787 did not use the word "slavery" but included several provisions about unfree persons. The Three-Fifths Compromise (in Article I, Section 2) allocated Congressional representation based "on the whole Number of free Persons" and "three fifths of all other Persons". The Fugitive Slave Clause (Article IV, Section 2) "no person held to service or labour in one state" would be freed by escaping to another. Article I, Section 9 allowed Congress to pass legislation to outlaw the "Importation of Persons", but not before after 1807. However, for purposes of the Fifth Amendment—which states that "No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"—slaves were understood as property. Although abolitionists used the Fifth Amendment to argue against slavery, it became part of the legal basis for treating slaves as property with Dred Scott v. Sanford. Slavery was supported in practice by a pervasive culture of white supremacy.
Between 1777 and 1804, every Northern state provided for the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery. No Southern state did so, and the slave population of the South continued to grow, peaking at almost 4 million people in 1861. An abolitionist movement headed by such figures as William Lloyd Garrison grew in strength in the North, calling for the end of slavery nationwide and exacerbating sectional tensions. In 1836, the US House of Representatives instituted a gag rule against abolitionist petitions and speeches, attempting to stifle John Quincy Adams and other abolitionist congressmen. The American Colonization Society, in contrast, called for the emigration and colonization of African American freed-slaves to Africa; its views were endorsed by politicians such as Henry Clay, who feared that the abolitionist movement would provoke a civil war. Proposals to eliminate slavery by constitutional amendment were introduced by Representative Arthur Livermore in 1818 and by John Quincy Adams in 1839, but failed to gain significant traction.
As the country continued to expand, the issue of slavery in its new territories became the dominant national issue. The Southern position was that slaves were property and therefore could be moved to the territories like all other forms of property. The 1820 Missouri Compromise provided for the admission of Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state, preserving the Senate's equality between the regions. In 1846, the Wilmot Proviso was introduced to a war appropriations bill to ban slavery in all territories acquired in the Mexican–American War; the Proviso repeatedly passed the House, but not the Senate. The Compromise of 1850 temporarily defused the issue by admitting California as a free state, instituting a stronger Fugitive Slave Act, banning the slave trade in Washington, D.C., and allowing New Mexico and Utah self-determination on the slavery issue.
Despite the compromise, tensions between North and South continued to rise over the subsequent decade, inflamed by the publication of the 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; fighting between pro-slave and abolitionist forces in Kansas, beginning in 1854; the 1857 Dred Scott decision by the US Supreme Court, which struck down provisions of the Compromise of 1850; abolitionist John Brown's 1859 attempt to start a slave revolt at Harpers Ferry; and the 1860 election of the anti-slavery Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln to the presidency. The Southern states seceded from the Union in the months following Lincoln's election, forming the Confederate States of America and beginning the American Civil War.
Earlier proposed amendments
Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, no constitutional amendments had been adopted in more than 60 years. Two earlier amendments proposed by the Congress would have become the Thirteenth Amendment, but failed to be ratified by a sufficient number of states. The first, the Titles of Nobility Amendment, was proposed by the Congress in 1810 and ratified by twelve states. It would have revoked the citizenship of anyone accepting any foreign payment without Congressional authorization or accepting a foreign title of nobility.
The second, the Corwin Amendment, would have forbidden the adopting of any constitutional amendment abolishing or restricting slavery within a state, or permitting the Congress to do so. Originally drafted by Abraham Lincoln's future Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and put forward by Senator Thomas Corwin of Ohio, this proposal was an unsuccessful attempt to persuade the border states not to secede from the Union. In Lincoln's first inaugural address, he stated that he had "no objection" to the amendment, as he believed that its provisions were already implied in the Constitution. The amendment was passed by the House on February 28, 1861 and the Senate on March 2, 1861, but was ratified only by Ohio, Illinois, and Maryland.
Proposal by Congress
Acting under presidential war powers, Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring all slaves in rebel-controlled territory to be free; the proclamation did not affect the status of slaves in the border states that had remained loyal to the Union. Lincoln and others feared that the proclamation might be reversed or found invalid after the war, however, and sought more permanent guarantees that the freed blacks would not be re-enslaved.
In the final years of the Civil War, several legislative proposals were made to abolish slavery nationally and permanently by constitutional amendment. On December 14, 1863, a bill proposing such an amendment was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa). On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri, one of the War Democrats, submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment.
Radical Republicans led by Senator Charles Sumner and Representative Thaddeus Stevens sought a more expansive version of the Amendment. On February 8, 1864, Sumner submitted a constitutional amendment to declare all Americans "equal before the law" as well as abolish slavery. On February 10 the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal based on drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson. The text of the Amendment's first section mirrored that of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which stipulates (for territories in the region now called the Midwest): “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6. However, just over two months later on June 15, the House failed to do so, with 93 in favor and 65 against, thirteen votes short of the two-thirds vote needed for passage; the vote split largely along party lines, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing. In the 1864 presidential race, former Free Soil Party candidate John C. Frémont threatened a third party run opposing Lincoln, this time on a platform endorsing an anti-slavery amendment. The Republican Party platform had failed to include a similar plank, though Lincoln endorsed the amendment in a letter accepting his nomination. Fremont withdrew from the race on September 22, 1864.
In November 1864, Lincoln was re-elected, and Republicans made substantial gains in Congress. Lincoln made the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment his top legislative priority in 1865, beginning his efforts while the "lame duck" session was still in office. Opposition to the measure was led by the 1864 Democratic vice presidential nominee, Representative George H. Pendleton. Democrats who opposed the Amendment generally made arguments based on federalism and state's rights. Said Rep. Joseph K. Edgerton, it would be better "that negro slavery exist a thousand years than that American white men lose their constitutional liberty in the extinction of the constitutional sovereignty of the Federal States of this Union.” Some argued that the proposed change so violated the spirit of the Constitution that it would not be a valid "amendment" but would instead constitute "revolution". Republicans argued that slavery was uncivilized and that abolition was a necessary step in national progress.
Secretary of State Seward, Representative John B. Alley and others were instructed by Lincoln to procure votes by any means necessary, and promised government posts and campaign contributions to outgoing Democrats willing to switch sides. Ashley, who reintroduced the measure into the House, also lobbied several Democrats to vote in favor of the measure. Representative Thaddeus Stevens commented later that "the greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption, aided and abetted by the purest man in America"; however, Lincoln's precise role in making deals for votes remains unknown.
On January 31, 1865, the House called another vote on the amendment, with neither side being certain of the outcome. Every Republican supported the measure, as well as 16 Democrats, almost all of them lame ducks. The amendment finally passed by a vote of 119 to 56, narrowly reaching the required two-thirds majority. The House exploded into celebration, with some members openly weeping; black onlookers, who had only been allowed to attend Congressional sesions since the previous year, cheered from the galleries. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton ordered three sets of one hundred guns to fire as he read the list of those who had voted in support of the amendment.
Lincoln signed the Amendment on February 1, 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment is the only ratified Amendment signed by a President; however, James Buchanan had signed the failed pro-slavery Corwin Amendment in 1861. The Thirteenth Amendment's archival copy bears Lincoln's signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, and after the date. On February 7, Congress passed a resolution affirming that the Presidential signature was unnecessary. (Lincoln had already signed at least 14 commemorative copies of the document; these now sell for $1.8 million or more.)
The amendment was sent to the state legislatures. Most Northern states quickly ratified it, the only exceptions being those won by Democratic candidate George McClellan in the 1864 election: Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey.
The war had not officially ended, and the legal status of the defeated Southern states (and by extension, the legal requirements for Constitutional amendment) remained ambiguous Nevertheless, ratifications from Reconstruction governments in the Southern states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Virginia, and Tennessee were submitted and accepted.
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. With Congress out of session, Lincoln's successor Andrew Johnson began a period known as "Presidential Reconstruction", in which he personally oversaw the creation of new governments in seven Southern states (North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, and Florida). Johnson established political conventions populated by delegates he had approved; he strongly encouraged these conventions to ratify the amendment (and also repeal their states' ordinances of secession).
Direct negotiations between state governments and the Johnson administration ensued. At one point, South Carolina's provisional governor Benjamin Franklin Perry objected to the scope of the Amendment's enforcement clause; Secretary of State Seward responded by telegraph that in fact the second clause "is really restraining in its effect, instead of enlarging the powers of Congress". When South Carolina ratified the Amendment, it issued its own interpretive declaration that "any attempt by Congress toward legislating upon the political status of former slaves, or their civil relations, would be contrary to the Constitution of the United States". Alabama, and Louisiana also declared that their ratification did not imply federal power to legislate on the status of former slaves.
South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia ratified the amendment in November and December 1865—bringing the total to 27, three-quarters of the 36 states that existed before the war. On December 18, 1865, Seward proclaimed the amendment to have been adopted as of December 6 (the date of Georgia's ratification), acknowledging thereby that all 36 states were considered valid members of the Union. Thomas Corwin died the same day.
Florida ratified the Amendment on December 28, 1865; New Jersey in 1866; Texas in 1870; Delaware in 1901; and Kentucky in 1976. Mississippi, whose legislature voted in 1995 to ratify, belatedly notified the Office of the Federal Register in February 2013 of that legislative action, completing the legal process for the state.
The ratification dates by state are as follows:
- 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) – ratified by the Unionist Restored Government of Virginia
- 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)
The following states ratified the amendment after its enactment:
- 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)
The Thirteenth Amendment legally abolished chattel slavery in the United States and mooted parts of the original constitution which deal with slavery. Although the majority of Kentucky's slaves had been emancipated, 65,000 people remained to be legally freed when the Amendment went into effect on December 18. Slaves in Delaware also became legally free.
As the amendment still permitted labor as punishment for convicted criminals, Southern states responded with what Douglas A. Blackmon called "an array of interlocking laws essentially intended to criminalize black life". Black Codes were passed restricting the rights of black Americans; in 1865, for example, a Mississippi ordinance required black workers to contract with white farmers by January 1 of each year. Mississippi also rescinded Blacks' Second Amendment right to "keep and bear arms". Blacks could be sentenced to forced labor for crimes including petty theft, using obscene language, or selling cotton after sunset. States passed new, strict vagrancy laws that were selectively enforced against blacks without white protectors. The labor of these convicts was then sold to farms, factories, lumber camps, quarries, and mines. Some states mandated indefinitely long periods of child "apprenticeship". Some laws did not target Blacks specifically, but instead affected farm workers—most of whom were Black. At the same time, many states passed laws to actively prevent Blacks from acquiring property.
Following the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment by Congress, Republicans grew concerned over the increase it would create in the congressional representation of the Democratic-dominated Southern states; because the full population of freed slaves would be counted rather than three-fifths, the Southern states would dramatically increase their power in the population-based House of Representatives. Republicans hoped to offset this advantage by attracting and protecting votes of the newly enfranchised black population.
Congress subsequently passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which guaranteed citizenship and equal protection of the law to black Americans, though not guaranteeing the right to vote. The Amendment was also used as authorization for the Freedmen's Bureau Act. President Andrew Johnson vetoed both bills, but was each time overridden by a two-thirds majority of Congress, and the bills passed into law.
Proponents of the Act including Trumbull and Wilson argued that Section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment (enforcement power) authorized the federal government to legislate civil rights for the States. Others disagreed, maintaining that inequality conditions were distinct from slavery. Seeking more substantial justification, and fearing that future opponents would again seek to overturn the legislation, Congress and the states added additional protections to the Constitution: the Fourteenth Amendment (1868), which defined citizenship and mandated equal protection under the law, and the Fifteenth Amendment (1870), which banned racial voting restrictions.
The Freedmen's Bureau enforced the Amendment locally, providing a degree of support for people subject to the Black Codes. The Civil Rights Act circumvented racism in local jurisdictions by allowing blacks access to the federal courts. The Enforcement Acts of 1870–1871 and the Civil Rights Act of 1875, in combating the violence and intimidation of white supremacy, were also part of the effort to end slave conditions for Southern blacks. However, the effect of these laws waned as political will diminished and the federal government lost authority in the South—particularly after the Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction in exchange for a Republican presidency.
U. S. v. Rhodes (1866), one of the first Thirteenth Amendment cases, tested the Constitutionality of provisions in the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which granted blacks redress in the federal courts. Kentucky law prohibited blacks from testifying against whites—an arrangement which compromised the ability of Nancy Talbot ("a citizen of the United States of the African race") to reach justice against a white person accused of robbing her. After Talbot attempted to try the case in federal court; the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled this federal option unconstitutional. Noah Swayne (a Supreme Court justice sitting on the Kentucky Circuit Court) overturned the Kentucky decision, holding that without the material enforcement provided the Civil Rights Act, slavery would not truly be abolished. With In Re Turner (1867), Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase ordered freedom for Elizabeth Turner, a "former" slave in Maryland who became "indentured" to her "former" master.
In Blyew v. U.S., (1872) the Supreme Court heard another Civil Rights Act case relating to federal courts in Kentucky. John Bylew and George Kennard were white men visiting the cabin of a black family, the Fosters. Bylew apparently became angry with sixteen year old Richard Foster and hit him twice in the head with an ax. Bylew and Kennard killed Richard's parents, Sallie and Jack Foster, and his blind grandmother, Lucy Armstrong. They severely wounded the Fosters' two young daughters. Kentucky courts would not allow the Foster children to testify against Blyew and Kennard. But federal courts, authorized by the Civil Rights Act, found Blyew and Kennard guilty of murder. When the Supreme Court took the case, they ruled (5–2) that the Foster children did not have standing in federal courts because only living people could take advantage of the Act. In doing so, the Courts effectively ruled that Thirteenth Amendment did not permit a federal remedy in murder cases. Swayne and Joseph P. Bradley dissented, maintaining that in order to have meaningful effects, the Thirteenth Amendment would have to address systemic racial oppression.
Though based on a technicality, the Blyew case set a precedent in state and federal courts that led to the erosion of Congress's Thirteenth Amendment powers. The Supreme Court continued along this path in the Slaughter-House Cases (1873), which upheld a state-sanctioned monopoly of white butchers. In U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876), the Court ignored Thirteenth Amendment dicta from Circuit Court decision (by Joseph Bradley) to exonerate perpetrators of the Colfax massacre and invalidate the Enforcement Act of 1870.
In Civil Rights Cases, (1883), the Supreme Court reviewed five consolidated cases dealing with the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which outlawed racial discrimination at "inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement". The Court ruled (8–1) that the Thirteenth Amendment did not ban most forms of racial discrimination by non-government actors. In the majority decision, Bradley wrote (again in non-binding dicta) that the Thirteenth Amendment empowered Congress to attack "badges and incidents of slavery". However, he distinguished between "fundamental rights" of citizenship, protected by the Thirteenth Amendment, and the "social rights of men and races in the community". The majority opinion held that ""it would be running the slavery argument into the ground to make it apply to every act of discrimination which a person may see fit to make as to guests he will entertain, or as to the people he will take into his coach or cab or car; or admit to his concert or theatre, or deal with in other matters of intercourse or business." In his solitary dissent, John Marshall Harlan (a Kentucky lawyer who changed his mind about civil rights law after witnessing organized racist violence) argued that "such discrimination practiced by corporations and individuals in the exercise of their public or quasi-public functions is a badge of servitude, the imposition of which congress may prevent under its power."
Attorneys in Plessy v. Ferguson, (1896) argued that racial segregation involved "observances of a servile character coincident with the incidents of slavery", in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment. In their brief to the Supreme Court, Plessy's lawyers wrote that "distinction of race and caste" was inherently unconstitutional. The Supreme Court rejected this reasoning and upheld state laws enforcing segregation under the "separate but equal" doctrine. In the (7–1) majority decision, the Court found that "a statute which implies merely a legal distinction between the white and colored races—a distinction which is founded on the color of the two races and which must always exist so long as white men are distinguished from the other race by color—has no tendency to destroy the legal equality of the two races, or reestablish a state of involuntary servitude." Harlan dissented, writing: "The thin disguise of 'equal' accommodations for passengers in railroad coaches will not mislead any one, nor, atone for the wrong this day done."
In Hodges v. United States (1906), the Supreme Court struck down a federal statute providing for the punishment of two or more people who "conspire to injure, oppress, threaten or intimidate any citizen in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States". A group of white men in Arkansas conspired to violently prevent eight black workers from performing their jobs at a lumber mill; the group was convicted by a federal grand jury. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal statute, which outlawed conspiracies to deprive citizens of their liberty, was not authorized by the Thirteenth Amendment. It held that "no mere personal assault or trespass or appropriation operates to reduce the individual to a condition of slavery". Harlan dissented, maintaining his opinion that the Thirteenth Amendment should protect freedom beyond "physical restraint".
In contrast to the other "Reconstruction amendments", the Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law. As historian Amy Dru Stanley summarizes, "beyond a handful of landmark rulings striking down debt peonage, ﬂagrant involuntary servitude, and some instances of race-based violence and discrimination, the Thirteenth Amendment has never been a potent source of rights claims". No offenses against the Thirteenth Amendment have been prosecuted since 1947.
In Selective Draft Law Cases, the Supreme Court ruled that the military draft was not "involuntary servitude". In United States v. Kozminski, the Supreme Court ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment did not prohibit compulsion of servitude through psychological coercion. Kozminski limited involuntary servitude to those situations in which "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 or an immigrant or is mentally incompetent."
U.S. Courts of Appeals, 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 as a high school graduation requirement did not violate the Thirteenth Amendment.
Definitions of conditions addressed by Thirteenth Amendment
- 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.
- 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 includes the condition in which people are compelled to work 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. In Bailey v. Alabama (1911), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that peonage laws violated the amendment's ban on involuntary servitude.
- Requiring specific performance as a remedy for breach of personal services contracts has been viewed as a form of involuntary servitude by some scholars and courts, though other jurisdictions and scholars have rejected this argument; it is a popular rule in academia and many local jurisdictions, but has never been upheld by higher courts.
- 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 he would suffer serious harm or physical restraint if he did not perform such labor or services:
- the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process.
Enforcement (Section 2)
Victims of human trafficking and other conditions of forced labor are commonly coerced by threat of legal actions to their detriment. 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:
Conspiracy to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person's rights or privileges secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States
- Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242 – Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law:
It is a crime for any person acting under color of law (federal, state or local officials who enforce statutes, ordinances, regulations, or customs) to willfully deprive or cause to be deprived the rights, privileges, or immunities of any person secured or protected by the Constitution and laws of the U.S. This includes willfully subjecting or causing to be subjected any person to different punishments, pains, or penalties, than those prescribed for punishment of citizens on account of such person being an alien or by reason of his/her color or race.
Thirteenth Amendment scholar Alexander Tsesis cites Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. (1968) as a turning point in jurisprudence concerning the Amendment. The Supreme Court confirmed in Jones that Congress may prevent private actors from imposing "badges and incidents of servitude". The Joneses were a black couple in St. Louis County, Missouri who sued a real estate company for refusing to sell them a house. The Court held (in a 7–2 decision):
Just as the Black Codes, enacted after the Civil War to restrict the free exercise of those rights, were substitutes for the slave system, so the exclusion of Negroes from white communities became a substitute for the Black Codes. And when racial discrimination herds men into ghettos and makes their ability to buy property turn on the color of their skin, then it too is a relic of slavery.
Negro citizens, North and South, who saw in the Thirteenth Amendment a promise of freedom—freedom to “go and come at pleasure” and to “buy and sell when they please”—would be left with “a mere paper guarantee” if Congress were powerless to assure that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white man. At the very least, the freedom that Congress is empowered to secure under the Thirteenth Amendment includes the freedom to buy whatever a white man can buy, the right to live wherever a white man can live. If Congress cannot say that being a free man means at least this much, then the Thirteenth Amendment made a promise the Nation cannot keep.
The Jones precedent has been used to justify Congressional action to protect migrant workers and target sex trafficking. The direct enforcement power found in the Thirteenth Amendment contrasts with that of the Fourteenth, which allows only responses to institutional discrimination of state actors.
- "13th Amendment". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Kenneth M. Stampp (1980). The Imperiled Union:Essays on the Background of the Civil War. Oxford University Press. p. 85.
- Jean Allain (2012). The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary. Oxford University Press. p. 117.
- Foner 2010, p. 16.
- Jean Allain (2012). The Legal Understanding of Slavery: From the Historical to the Contemporary. Oxford University Press. p. 119–120.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 14. "Nineteenth century apologists for the expansion of slavery developed a political philosophy that placed property at the pinnacle of personal interests and regarded its protection to be the government's chief purpose. The Fifth Amendment's Just Compensation clause provided the proslavery camp with a bastion for fortifying the peculiar institution against congressional restrictions to its spread westward. Based on this property-rights centered argument, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, in his infamous Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), found the Missouri Compromise unconstitutionally violated due process."
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 18–23. "Constitutional protections of slavery coexisted with an entire culture of oppression. The peculiar institution reached many private aspects of human life, for both whites and blacks. [...] Even free Southern blacks lived in a world so legally constricted by racial domination that it offered only a deceptive shadow of freedom."
- Foner 2010, pp. 14–16.
- Foner 2010, pp. 20–22.
- Vile, John R., ed. (2003). "Thirteenth Amendment". Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues: 1789 - 2002. ABC-CLIO. pp. 449–52.
- Goodwin 2005, p. 123.
- Foner 2010, p. 59.
- McPherson 1988, pp. 88–91.
- McPherson 1988, pp. 146–50.
- McPherson 1988, pp. 170–77.
- McPherson 1988, pp. 201–06.
- McPherson 1988, pp. 234–35.
- Mark W. Podvia (2009). "Titles of Nobility". Encyclopedia of the United States Constitution. Infobase. pp. 738–39.
- Abraham Lincoln. "First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln". The Avalon Project. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Foner 2010, p. 156.
- "13th Amendment Site". 13thamendment.harpweek.com. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Foner 2010, p. 158.
- McPherson 1988, p. 558.
- Foner 2010, pp. 312–14.
- Donald 1996, p. 396.
- "James Ashley". Ohio History Central. Ohio Historical Society. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), (2001), pp. 38–42.
- Michigan State Historical Society (1901). Historical collections. Michigan Historical Commission. p. 582. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "Congressional Proposals and Senate Passage", Harpers Weekly, The Creation of the 13th Amendment, Retrieved Feb 15, 2007
- Vorenberg, Final Freedom (2001), p. 53. "It was no coincidence that Trumbull's announcement came only two days after Sumner had proposed his amendment making all persons 'equal before the law.' The Massachusetts senator had spurred the committee into final action."
- McAward, "McCulloch and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 1786
- Goodwin 2005, p. 686.
- Goodwin 2005, pp. 624–25.
- Foner 2010, p. 299.
- Goodwin 2005, p. 639.
- Goodwin 2005, pp. 686–87.
- Goodwin 2005, p. 688.
- Benedict, "Constitutional Politics, Constitutional Law, and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 179.
- Benedict, "Constitutional Politics, Constitutional Law, and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 179–180. Benedict quotes Sen. Garrett Davis: "there is a boundary between the power of revolution and the power of amendment, which the latter, as established in our Constitution, cannot pass; and that if the proposed change is revolutionary it would be null and void, notwithstanding it might be formally adopted." Full text of Davis's speech, with comments from others can be found in Great Debates in American History (1918), ed. Marion Mills Miller.
- Benedict, "Constitutional Politics, Constitutional Law, and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 182.
- Foner 2010, pp. 312–13.
- Goodwin 2005, p. 687.
- Goodwin 2005, pp. 687–689.
- Donald 1996, p. 554.
- Foner 2010, p. 313.
- Foner 2010, p. 314.
- McPherson 1988, p. 840.
- Goodwin 2005, p. 689.
- Harrison, “Lawfulness of the Reconstruction Amendments” (2001), p. 389. "For reasons that have never been entirely clear, the amendment was presented to the President pursuant to Article I, Section 7, of the Constitution, and signed.
- Thorpe, Constitutional History (1901), p. 154. "The President signed the joint resolution on the first of February. Somewhat curiously the signing has only one precedent, and that was in spirit and purpose the complete antithesis of the present act. President Buchanan had signed the proposed Amendment of 1861, which would make slavery national and perpetual."
- "Joint Resolution Submitting 13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress". The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837-1897. Library of Congress.
- Thorpe, Constitutional History (1901), p. 154. "But many held that the President's signature was not essential to an act of this kind, and, on the fourth of February, Senator Trumbull offered a resolution, which was agreed to three days later, that the approval was not required by the Constitution; "that it was contrary to the early decision of the Senate and of the Supreme Court; and that the negative of the President applying only to the ordinary cases of legislation, he had nothing to do with propositions to amend the Constitution."
- Tammy Webber, "Lincoln-signed copy of 13th Amendment restored", Boston Globe (Associated Press), 6 December 2011.
- Harrison, “Lawfulness of the Reconstruction Amendments” (2001), p. 390. "Those ratifications raised some tricky questions. Four of them came from organizations purporting to be the legislatures of Virginia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. What about them? How many states were there, how many of them had legally valid legislatures, and if there were fewer legislatures than states, did Article V require ratification by three-fourths of the states or three-fourths of the legally valid state legislatures?"
- Harrison, "Lawfulness of the Reconstruction Amendments" (2001), p. 394–397. "Then came the kicker: The President decided who was loyal, prescribing suffrage qualifications for electing the convention. [...] Pursuant to Johnson's proclamations, the provisional governors organized elections for conventions. Six met in 1865, while Texas's convention did not organize until March 1866. Three leading issues came before the convention: secession itself, the abolition of slavery, and the Confederate war debt."
- Eric L. McKitrick (1960). Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction. U. Chicago Press. p. 178. ISBN 9780195057072.
- Clara Mildred Thompson (1915). Reconstruction in Georgia: economic, social, political, 1865-1872. Columbia University Press. p. 156.
- Vorenberg, Final Freedom (2001), p. 229.
- McAward, "McCulloch and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 1786–1787.
- Thorpe, Constitutional History (1901), p. 210.
- McAward, "McCulloch and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), p. 1787.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), 48.
- "The 13th Amendment: Ratification and Results". Harper Weekly. Retrieved February 18, 2013.
- Harrison, "Lawfulness of the Reconstruction Amendments" (2001), p. 398. "[Seward] counted thirty-six states in all, thus rejecting the possibility that any had left the Union or been destroyed. With Georgia's action on December 6, he counted twenty-seven ratifications. So on December 18, 1865, in keeping with a duty imposed on the Secretary of State by a statute from 1818, he issued a certificate stating that Congress had proposed a constitutional amendment by the requisite two-thirds vote, that twenty-seven states had ratified, that the whole number of states in the Union was thirty-six, that twenty-seven was the requisite three-fourths majority, and that the amendment had 'be[come] valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the Constitution of the United States."
- Vorenberg, Final Freedom (2001), p. 233.
- Andrew Kirell (February 18, 2013). "Mississippi Officially Ratifies 13th Amendment Banning Slavery… 148 Years Later". Mediaite. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- Matt Pearce (February 18, 2013). "148 years later, Mississippi ratifies amendment banning slavery". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- Ben Waldron (February 18, 2013). "Mississippi Officially Abolishes Slavery, Ratifies 13th Amendment". ABC News. Archived from the original on June 4, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- "The United States Ratifies the 13th Amendment to the Constitution". African-American Registry. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 17 & 34. "It rendered all clauses directly dealing with slavery null and altered the meaning of other clauses that had originally been designed to protect the institution of slavery."
- "The Thirteenth Amendment", Primary Documents in American History, Library of Congress. Retrieved Feb 15, 2007
- Lowell Harrison & James C. Klotter, A New History of Kentucky, University Press of Kentucky, 1997; p. 180; ISBN 9780813126210
- Hornsby, Alan, ed. (2011). "Delaware". Black America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 139.
- Blackmon 2008, p. 53.
- Stromberg, "A Plain Folk Perspective" (2002), p. 111.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 52. "The Mississippi code denied to civilian blacks equal coverage under the Second Amendment, prohibiting them from owning Bowie knives, firearms, or ammunition."
- Blackmon 2008, p. 100.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 51–52.
- Blackmon 2008, p. 6.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 50.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 51.
- Goldstone 2011, p. 22.
- Nelson, William E. (1988). The Fourteenth Amendment: From Political Principle to Judicial Doctrine. Harvard University Press. p. 47. ISBN 9780674041424. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
- Stromberg, "A Plain Folk Perspective" (2002), p. 112.
- Vorenberg, Final Freedom (2001), pp. 233–234.
- W. E. B. DuBois, "The Freedmen's Bureau", The Atlantic, March 1901.
- McAward, "McCulloch and the Thirteenth Amendment" (2012), pp. 1788–1790.
- Goldstone 2011, pp. 23–24.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 50–51. "Blacks applied to local provost marshalls and Freedmen's Bureau for help against these child abductions, particularly in those cases where children were taken from living parents. Jack Prince asked for help when a woman bound his maternal niece. Sally Hunter requested assistance to obtain the release of her two nieces. Bureau officials finally put an end to the system of indenture in 1867".
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 66–67.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 56–57, 60–61. "If the Republicans had hoped to gradually use section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment to pass Reconstruction legislation, they would soon learn that President Johnson, using his veto power, would make increasingly more difficult the passage of any measure augmenting the power of the national government. Further, with time, even leading antislavery Republicans would become less adamant and more willing to reconcile with the South than protect the rights of the newly freed. This was clear by the time Horace Greely accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 1872 and even more when President Rutherford B. Hayes entered the Compromise of 1877, agreeing to withdraw federal troops from the South."
- 27 Fed. Cas. 785 (1866)
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 62–63.
- Seth P. Waxman, "orgetown.edu/facpub/287/ Twins at Birth: Civil Rights and the Role of the Solicitor General", Indiana Law Journal 75, 2000; pp. 1302–1303.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 63–64.
- 80 U.S. 581 (1871)
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 64–66.
- Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3 (1883)
- Goldstone 2011, p. 122.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 70.
- Appleton's Annual Cyclopædia and Register of Important Events of the Year .... D. Appleton & Company. 1888. p. 132. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 73.
- 163 U.S. 537 (1896)
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 76.
- Goldstone 2011, pp. 162, 164–65.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 78.
- 203 U.S. 1 (1906)
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 79–80.
- Amy Dru Stanley (June 2010). "Instead of Waiting for the Thirteenth Amendment: The War Power, Slave Marriage, and Inviolate Human Rights". American Historical Review 115 (3): 735.
- "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 Traver, Robert (1967). The Jealous Mistress. Boston: Little, Brown.
- 245 U.S. 366 (1918)
- 487 U.S. 931 (1988)
- "Thirteenth Amendment—Slavery and Involuntary Servitude", GPO Access, U.S. Government Printing Office, p. 1557
- Risa Goluboff (2001), "The 13th Amendment and the Lost Origins of Civil Rights," Duke Law Journal, Vol 50, no. 228, p. 1609
- Loupe, Diane (August 2000). "Community Service: Mandatory or Voluntary? – Industry Overview". School Administrator: 8.
- Peonage Section 1581 of Title 18 U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statutes enforced
- Involuntary Servitude Section 1584 of Title 18 U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statutes enforced
- "Specific Performance and the Thirteenth Amendment by Nathan Oman". SSRN. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Forced Labor Section 1589 of Title 18 U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division Involuntary servitude, forced labor and sex trafficking statutes 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."
- "US Code – Title 18: Crimes and criminal procedure". Codes.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- "18 U.S.C. § 241: US Code – Section 241: Conspiracy against rights". Codes.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- "18 U.S.C. § 242: US Code – Section 242: Deprivation of rights under color of law". Codes.lp.findlaw.com. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 3. "After Reconstruction, however, a series of Supreme Court decisions substantially diminished the amendment's significance in achieving genuine liberation. The Court did not revisit the amendment's meaning until 1968, during the heyday of the Civil Rights movement. In Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer, the Court found that the Thirteenth Amendment not only ended unrecompensed, forced labor but that its second section also empowered Congress to develop legislation that is 'rationally' related to ending any remaining 'badges and incidents of servitude'."
- Alison Shay, "Remembering Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co.", Publishing the Long Civil Rights Movement, 17 June 2012.
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), p. 3. "The Court's holding in Jones enables Congress to pass statutes against present-day human rights violations, such as the trafficking of foreign workers as sex slaves and the exploitation of migrant agricultural workers as peons."
- Tsesis, The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom (2004), pp. 112–113. "... the Thirteenth Amendment remains the principal constitutional source requiring the federal government to protect individual liberties against arbitrary private and public infringements that resemble the incidents of involuntary servitude. Moreover, the Thirteenth Amendment is a positive injunction requiring Congress to pass laws to that end, while the Fourteenth Amendment is 'responsive' to 'unconstitutional behavior.'"
- Benedict, Michael Les. "Constitutional Politics, Constitutional Law, and the Thirteenth Amendment". Maryland Law Review 71 (1), 31 October 2012.
- Blackmon, Douglas A. (25 March 2008). Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-385-50625-0.
- Donald, David Herbert (1996). Lincoln. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-82535-9. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Foner, Eric (2010). The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. W. W. Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-06618-0. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- Goldstone, Lawrence (2011). Inherently Unequal: The Betrayal of Equal Rights by the Supreme Court, 1865-1903. Walker & Company. ISBN 978-0-8027-1792-4.
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2005). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-7075-5. Retrieved June 2, 2013.
- Harrison, John. “The Lawfulness of the Reconstruction Amendments”. University of Chicago Law Review 68 (2); Spring, 2001; pp. 375–462. Accessed via JStor, 8 June 2013.
- McAward, Jennifer Mason. "McCulloch and the Thirteenth Amendment", Columbia Law Review 112, 2012, pp. 1769–1809.
- McPherson, James M. (1988). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-503863-7. Retrieved June 5, 2013.
- Joseph R. Stromberg, "A Plain Folk Perspective on Reconstruction, State-Building, Ideology, and Economic Spoils". Journal of Libertarian Studies 16 (2), Spring 2002; pp. 103–137.
- Thorpe, Francis Newton. The Constitutional History of the United States, vol. 3: 1861 – 1895. Chicago: Callaghan, 1901.
- Tsesis, Alexander. The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom: A Legal History. New York University Press, 2004. ISBN 0814782760
- Vorenberg, Michael .Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 9781139428002
- Belz, Herman. Emancipation and Equal Rights: Politics and Constitutionalism in the Civil War Era (1978) online
- Holzer, Harold, et al. eds. Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment (2007) excerpt and text search
- Kachun, Mitch. Festivals of Freedom: Memory and Meaning in African American Emancipation Celebrations, 1808–1915 (2003) online
- Ripley, C. Peter et al. eds. Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation (1993) online
- Thirteenth Amendment and related resources at the Library of Congress
- National Archives: Thirteenth Amendment
- CRS Annotated Constitution: Thirteenth Amendment
- Original Document Proposing Abolition of Slavery
- Model State Anti-trafficking Criminal Statute – U.S. Dept of Justice
- "Abolishing Slavery: The Thirteenth Amendment Signed by Abraham Lincoln"; website of Seth Kaller, a dealer who has sold six Lincoln-signed copies of the Thirteenth Amendment.
- Seward certificate announcing the Amendment's passage and affirming the existence of 36 States
- Analysis of court decisions giving December 18, 1865, as the date of ratification