The US Constitution Show: Educating Americans About their Freedoms and Rights

Amendments XIII

Slavery Abolished

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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.

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

Ratified: December 6, 1865

The 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery, was proposed on January 31, 1865.

# State Date *
1 Illinois Feb 1, 1865  
2 Rhode Island Feb 2, 1865  
3 Michigan Feb 3, 1865  
4 Maryland Feb 3, 1865  
5 New York Feb 3, 1865  
6 Pennsylvania Feb 3, 1865  
7 West Virginia Feb 3, 1865  
8 Missouri Feb 6, 1865  
9 Maine Feb 7, 1865  
10 Kansas Feb 7, 1865  
11 Massachusetts Feb 7, 1865  
12 Virginia Feb 9, 1865  
13 Ohio Feb 10, 1865  
14 Indiana Feb 13, 1865  
15 Nevada Feb 16, 1865  
16 Louisiana Feb 17, 1865  
17 Minnesota Feb 23, 1865  
18 Wisconsin Feb 24, 1865  
19 Vermont Mar 8, 1865  
20 Tennessee Apr 7, 1865  
21 Arkansas Apr 14, 1865  
22 Connecticut May 4, 1865  
23 New Hampshire Jul 1, 1865  
24 South Carolina Nov 13, 1865  
25 Alabama Dec 2, 1865  
26 North Carolina Dec 4, 1865  
27 Georgia Dec 6, 1865 *
28 Oregon Dec 8, 1865  
29 California Dec 19, 1865  
30 Florida Dec 28, 1865  
31 Iowa Jan 15, 1866  
32 New Jersey Jan 23, 1866  
33 Texas Feb 18, 1870  
34 Delaware Feb 12, 1901  
35 Kentucky Mar 18, 1976  
36 Mississippi Mar 16, 1995 *  
Ratified in 309 days

* Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995, but because the state never officially notified the US Archivist, the ratification is not official.

This amendment was specifically rejected by Delaware on Feb 8, 1865; by Kentucky on Feb 24, 1865; by New Jersey on Mar 16, 1865; and by Mississippi on Dec 4, 1865. Florida reaffirmed its ratification on Jun 9, 1868.

History:   Slavery was an institution in America in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Southern states, with their agricultural economies, relied on the slavery system to ensure the cash crops (cotton, hemp, rice, indigo, and tobacco, primarily) were tended and cultivated. Slaves were not unknown in the North, but abolition in the North was completed by the 1830's. In 1808, the Congress prohibited the slave trade, not a year later than allowed in the Constitution. A series of compromises, laws, acts, and bills tried to keep the balance between the slave states and the non-slave states. For a more thorough history of slavery, see the Slavery Topic Page.

South Carolina voted to secede from the United States as a result of Abraham Lincoln's election to the Presidency. Lincoln had, over time, voiced strong objections to slavery, and his incoming administration was viewed as a threat to the right of the states to keep their institutions, particularly that of slavery, the business of the states. More states seceded, eleven in all, forming the Confederate States of America. The secession movement led to the Civil War. In the waning days of the war, which ran from 1861 to 1865, the Congress approved an amendment to abolish slavery in all of the United States. Once the CSA was defeated, approval of the 13th Amendment was quick in the Northern states. By the end of 1865, eight of the eleven Confederate states had also ratified it. Proposed on January 31, 1865, it was ratified on December 6, 1865 (309 days). Eventually, all of the CSA states except Mississippi ratified the 13th after the war; Mississippi ratified the amendment in 1995.


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