Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Amendment XIII in the National Archives and Records Administration, bearing the signature of Abraham Lincoln

The Thirteenth Amendment was an amendment to the United States Constitution, meaning that it was a change to the basic and most important laws that govern the United States. It outlawed slavery in the United States. It was passed in 1865, at the end of the Civil War.

Text[change | edit source]

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.[1]

History[change | edit source]

Prior to the Civil War, the Constitution allowed slavery. However, many groups sought to end slavery in the United States. The groups became the Republican Party in 1856, and gained power in 1860 with the election of Abraham Lincoln. In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves only in certain parts of the United States, and did not actually make slavery illegal. Near the end of the Civil War, Republicans, who controlled Congress, introduced an amendment to make slavery illegal (against the law) in every part of the United States. (In order for an amendment to happen, it first must be passed by both houses of Congress, and then passed by three-quarters of the states.) It was passed by three-quarters of the states and became law in late 1865.

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