Anniversary of 13th Amendment to US Constitution: Abolition of Slavery

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Monday, February 1, 2016

WASHINGTON (KGO) -- On this day 151 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln signed a resolution that later became the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

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It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, and by the House on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865.

On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption.

Specifically, the 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.

However, though many slaves had been declared free by President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain.

The Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject many black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South.

The amendment also enables Congress to pass laws against sex trafficking and other modern forms of slavery.

To read the full amendment, click here.

(Source: The National Archives)