13th Amendment

U.S. Constitution of 1787

13th Amendment

US Constitution Amendment
Proposal Date
Enacted Date
Abolishes slavery & involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime - Signers: Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax (R-IN) & Vice President Hannibal Hamlin (R-M)
January 31, 1865
December 6, 1865

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished 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 by the States on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed it to have been enacted. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.  The Amendment reads:

Section 1.  Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in the punishment for a 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.

13th Amendment signed by the Members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in 1865 that passed the landmark legislation.

Slavery had been tacitly protected in the original Constitution through clauses such as the Three-Fifths Compromise, in which three-fifths of the slave population was counted for representation in the United States House of Representatives. Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, more than sixty years had passed since the last amendment to the Constitution had been successfully ratified. Though many slaves had been declared free by Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain.   

Exhibited are:

13th Amendment  is exhibited in its first appearance, in book form.   The full title of the publication is The Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States of America by  R. Spalding, New York, 1865. Decorative Cloth, 1st Edition. 8vo -  7¾" - 9¾" tall.  

Harper's Weekly, New York, February 18, 1865, capturing a jubilant scene captioned: "Scene in the House on the Passage of the Proposition to Amend the Constitution", being the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South. In contrast to the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law, but has been used to strike down debt peonage and some race-based discrimination as "badges and incidents of slavery". 

Historic.us Exhibits

Stan Klos lecturing at the Republican National Convention's PoliticalFest 2000 Rebels With A Vision Exhibit  in Philadelphia's Convention Hall 

Primary Source exhibits are available for display in your community. The costs range from $1,000 to $25,000 depending on length of time on loan and the rarity of artifacts chosen. 


Dr. Naomi Yavneh Klos hosting the Louisiana Primary Source Exhibit at the State Capitol Building for the 2012 Bicentennial Celebration.

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Primary Source Exhibits

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Primary Source exhibits are available for display in your community. The costs range from $1,000 to $35,000 depending on length of time on loan and the rarity of artifacts chosen. 

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