Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Abolitionist imagery focused on atrocities against slaves. (Photo of Gordon, 1863.)
Abraham Lincoln
Representative James Mitchell Ashley proposed an amendment abolishing slavery in 1863.
Celebration erupts after the Thirteenth Amendment is passed by the House of Representatives.
Amendment XIII in the National Archives, bearing the signature of Abraham Lincoln
John Marshall Harlan became known as "The Great Dissenter" for his minority opinions favoring powerful Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

- Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Schuyler Colfax

American journalist, businessman, and politician who served as the 17th vice president of the United States from 1869 to 1873, and prior to that as the 25th Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1863 to 1869.

Ancestral home of Schuyler Colfax's grandparents William and Hester. Originally built in 1695.
John C. Frémont
Grant Colfax 1868 Campaign Poster
Vice President Schuyler Colfax
Colfax was castigated for his involvement in the Crédit Mobilier scandal in this March 6, 1873, political cartoon in which Uncle Sam is shown encouraging Colfax to commit hara-kiri.
Gravesite of Schuyler Colfax, in South Bend City Cemetery, South Bend, Indiana
Ellen M. Wade, second wife of Schuyler Colfax

During his first term as speaker he led the effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which abolished slavery.

Slavery in the United States

Prevalent in the United States of America from its founding in 1776 until 1865.

An animation showing when United States territories and states forbade or allowed slavery, 1789–1861
Slave auction block, Green Hill Plantation, Campbell County, Virginia, Historic American Buildings Survey
Slaves processing tobacco in 17th-century Virginia
Slaves on a South Carolina plantation (The Old Plantation, c. 1790)
Ledger of sale of 118 slaves, Charleston, South Carolina, c. 1754
Prince Estabrook memorial in front of Buckman Tavern on Lexington Green in Lexington, Massachusetts. Prince Estabrook, who was wounded in the Battle of Lexington and Concord, was the first black casualty of the Revolutionary War.
Continental soldiers at Yorktown. On the left, an African American soldier of the 1st Rhode Island Regiment.
This postage stamp, which was created at the time of the Bicentennial, honors Salem Poor, who was an enslaved African-American man who purchased his freedom, became a soldier, and rose to fame as a war hero during the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Advertisement in The Pennsylvania Gazette, May 24, 1796, seeking the return of Oney Judge, a fugitive slave who had escaped from the household of George Washington.
Confederate $100 bill, 1862–63, showing happy slaves farming. John C. Calhoun is at left, Columbia at right.
This portrait of Judge Samuel Sewall by John Smibert is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Massachusetts.
Establishing the Northwest Territory as free soil – no slavery – by Manasseh Cutler and Rufus Putnam proved to be crucial to the outcome of the Civil War.
Statue of abolitionist and crusading minister Theodore Parker in front of the Theodore Parker Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.
Statue of prominent abolitionist Frederick Douglass in the Highland Park Bowl in Rochester, New York. Douglass was a great admirer of Theodore Parker.
Benjamin Kent, Old Burying Ground, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Simon Legree and Uncle Tom: a scene from Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), an influential abolitionist novel
Henry Clay (1777–1852), one of three founders of the American Colonization Society, which assisted free blacks in moving to Africa. Liberia was a result.
Movement of slaves between 1790 and 1860
Slaves Waiting for Sale: Richmond, Virginia. Painting by Eyre Crowe
Ashley's Sack is a cloth that recounts a slave sale separating a mother and her daughter. The sack belonged to a nine-year-old girl Ashley and was a parting gift from her mother, Rose, after Ashley had been sold. Rose filled the sack with a dress, braid of her hair, pecans, and "my love always"
Slave trader's business in Atlanta, Georgia, 1864
Peter or Gordon, a whipped slave, photo taken at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1863; the guilty overseer was fired.
Wilson Chinn, a branded slave from Louisiana--Also exhibiting instruments of torture used to punish slaves
Slave sale, Charleston, 1856
U.S. brig Perry confronting the slave ship Martha off Ambriz on June 6, 1850
Eastman Johnson's 1863 painting "The Lord is My Shepherd"
Illustration from History of American conspiracies – a record of treason, insurrection, rebellion and c., in the United States of America, from 1760 to 1860 (1863)
James Hopkinson's Plantation. Planting sweet potatoes. ca. 1862/63
Slaves for sale, a scene in New Orleans, 1861
Mixed-race slave girls of predominant European ancestry, New Orleans, 1863 (see also white slave propaganda).
A slave auction, 1853
Five-dollar banknote showing a plantation scene with enslaved people in South Carolina. Issued by the Planters Bank, Winnsboro, 1853. On display at the British Museum in London.
Eastman Johnson (American, 1824–1906). A Ride for Liberty – The Fugitive Slaves (recto), ca. 1862. Oil on paperboard. Brooklyn Museum
Uncle Marian, a slave of great notoriety, of North Carolina. Daguerreotype of elderly North Carolina slave, circa 1850.
Slaves on J. J. Smith's cotton plantation near Beaufort, South Carolina, photographed by Timothy O'Sullivan standing before their quarters in 1862
Escaped slaves, ca. 1862, at the headquarters of General Lafayette
Four generations of a slave family, Smith's Plantation, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862
Abraham Lincoln presents the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. Painted by Francis Bicknell Carpenter in 1864
An industrial school set up for ex-slaves in Richmond during Reconstruction
Many Native Americans were enslaved during the California Genocide by American settlers.
Percentage of slaves in each county of the slave states in 1860
Evolution of the enslaved population of the United States as a percentage of the population of each state, 1790–1860

Slavery lasted in about half of U.S. states until abolition.

Reconstruction Amendments

A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled "The 'Rail Splitter' at Work Repairing the Union." The caption reads (Johnson): Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever!! (Lincoln): A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended!
Text of the 13th Amendment
Text of the 15th Amendment

The, or the , are the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the United States Constitution, adopted between 1865 and 1870.

Confederate States of America

Unrecognized breakaway republic in North America that existed from February 8, 1861, to May 9, 1865.

style=padding-left: 0.6em; text-align: left;
Map of the division of the states in the American Civil War (1861–1865). Blue indicates the northern Union states; light blue represents five Union slave states (border states) that primarily stayed in Union control. Red represents southern seceded states in rebellion, also known as the Confederate States of America. Uncolored areas were U.S. territories, with the exception of the Indian Territory (later Oklahoma).
Evolution of the Confederate States, December 20, 1860 – July 15, 1870
Alexander H. Stephens, Confederate Vice President; author of the 'Cornerstone Speech'
The inauguration of Jefferson Davis in Montgomery, Alabama
Elias Boudinot, Cherokee secessionist, Rep. Indian Territory
William T. Sutherlin mansion, Danville, Virginia, temporary residence of Jefferson Davis and dubbed "Last Capitol of the Confederacy"
Map of the county secession votes of 1860–1861 in Appalachia within the ARC definition. Virginia and Tennessee show the public votes, while the other states show the vote by county delegates to the conventions.
The Seal, symbols of an independent agricultural Confederacy surrounding an equestrian Washington, sword encased
Recruitment poster: "Do not wait to be drafted". Under half re-enlisted.
Unionists throughout the Confederate States resisted the 1862 conscription
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy from 1861 to 1865
Davis's cabinet in 1861, Montgomery, Alabama
Front row, left to right: Judah P. Benjamin, Stephen Mallory, Alexander H. Stephens, Jefferson Davis, John Henninger Reagan, and Robert Toombs
Back row, standing left to right: Christopher Memminger and LeRoy Pope Walker
Illustration printed in Harper's Weekly
Provisional Congress, Montgomery, Alabama
surviving Confederate mail
Main railroads of Confederacy, 1861; colors show the different gauges (track width); the top railroad shown in the upper right is the Baltimore and Ohio, which was at all times a Union railroad
Passers-by abusing the bodies of Union supporters near Knoxville, Tennessee. The two were hanged by Confederate authorities near the railroad tracks so passing train passengers could see them.
Richmond bread riot, 1863
Confederate memorial tombstone at Natchez City Cemetery in Natchez, Mississippi
This Confederate Flag pattern is the one most often thought of as the Confederate Flag today; it was one of many used by the Confederate armed forces. Variations of this design served as the Battle Flag of the Armies of Northern Virginia and Tennessee, and as the Confederate Naval Jack.
A Home on the Mississippi, Currier and Ives, 1871
St. John's Episcopal Church, Montgomery. The Secession Convention of Southern Churches was held here in 1861.
Major-General John C. Breckinridge, Secretary of War (1865)
General Robert E. Lee, General in Chief (1865)
William L. Yancey, {{small|Alabama Fire-Eater, "The Orator of Secession"}}
William Henry Gist, {{small|Governor of South Carolina, called the Secessionist Convention}}
CSA Naval Jack
{{small|Battle Flag – square}}
Gen. Gabriel J. Rains, {{small|Conscription Bureau chief, April 1862 – May 1863}}
Gen. Gideon J. Pillow, {{small|military recruiter under Bragg, then J.E. Johnston<ref>Coulter, The Confederates States of America, p. 324.</ref>}}
Joseph E. Brown, governor of Georgia
Pendleton Murrah, governor of Texas
Jesse J. Finley
Henry R. Jackson
Asa Biggs
Andrew Magrath
John H. Reagan
Jefferson Davis, 5 cent
Andrew Jackson
George Washington
Potters House, Atlanta Ga
Downtown Charleston SC
Navy Yard, Norfolk Va
Rail bridge, Petersburg Va
1st National Flag
2nd National Flag
3rd National Flag
Battle Flag

After the war, Confederate states were readmitted to the Congress during the Reconstruction era, after each ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery.

Reconstruction era

Period in American history following the American Civil War ; it lasted from 1865 to 1877 and marked a significant chapter in the history of civil rights in the United States.

The ruins of Richmond, Virginia, the former Confederate capital, after the American Civil War; newly-freed African Americans voting for the first time in 1867; office of the Freedmen's Bureau in Memphis, Tennessee; Memphis riots of 1866
The Southern economy had been ruined by the war. Charleston, South Carolina: Broad Street, 1865
The distribution of wealth per capita in 1872, illustrating the disparity between North and South in that period
A political cartoon of Andrew Johnson and Abraham Lincoln, 1865, entitled "The Rail Splitter At Work Repairing the Union". The caption reads (Johnson): "Take it quietly Uncle Abe and I will draw it closer than ever." (Lincoln): "A few more stitches Andy and the good old Union will be mended."
Monument in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic, organized after the war
Freedmen voting in New Orleans, 1867
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States (1861–1865)
Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in Massachusetts, 1862
Northern teachers traveled into the South to provide education and training for the newly freed population.
Andrew Johnson, 17th President of the United States (1865–1869)
An October 24th, 1874 Harper's Magazine editorial cartoon by Thomas Nast denouncing KKK and White League murders of innocent Blacks
The debate over Reconstruction and the Freedmen's Bureau was nationwide. This 1866 Pennsylvania election poster alleged that the bureau kept the Negro in idleness at the expense of the hardworking white taxpayer. A racist caricature of an African American is depicted.
1868 Republican cartoon identifies Democratic candidates Seymour and Blair (right) with KKK violence and with Confederate soldiers (left).
"This is a white man's government", Thomas Nast's caricature of the forces arraigned against Grant and Reconstruction in the 1868 election. Atop a black Union veteran reaching for a ballot box: the New York City Irish; Confederate and Klansman Nathan Bedford Forrest; and big-money Democratic Party chairman August Belmont, a burning freedmen's school in the background. Harper's Weekly, September 5, 1868.
Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President of the United States (1869–1877)
Grant's Attorney General Amos T. Akerman prosecuted the Ku Klux Klan, believing that the strong arm of the federal Justice Department could pacify the South.
Eastman Johnson's 1863 painting The Lord is My Shepherd, of a man reading the Bible
Atlanta's rail yard and roundhouse in ruins shortly after the end of the Civil War
$20 banknote with portrait of Secretary of the Treasury Hugh McCulloch
Winslow Homer's 1876 painting A Visit from the Old Mistress
A Republican Form of Government and No Domestic Violence, by Thomas Nast, a political cartoon about the Wheeler Compromise in Louisiana, published in Harper's Weekly, March 6, 1875
White Leaguers attacking the New Orleans integrated police force and state militia, Battle of Liberty Place, 1874
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States (1877–1881)
A poster for the 1939 epic film Gone with the Wind, which is set during the Civil War and Reconstruction eras

It proclaimed the newly freed slaves (freedmen; black people) citizens with (ostensibly) the same civil rights as those of whites; these rights were nominally guaranteed by three new constitutional amendments: the 13th, 14th, and 15th, collectively known as the Reconstruction Amendments.

Lyman Trumbull

Political cartoon by Thomas Nast: Senators Schurz and Trumbull in a scene from Shakespeare's Richard III
Illustration of Senator Trumbull motioning on May 6, 1868 for the arrest of disorderly spectators at the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson
Lyman Trumbull
Front of Trumbull's house in Alton
Trumbull's grave at Oak Woods Cemetery

Lyman Trumbull (October 12, 1813 – June 25, 1896) was a lawyer, judge, and United States Senator from Illinois and the co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


State in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Maryland to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to its east.

The Twelve-Mile Circle
Map of Delaware
Sunset in Woodbrook, New Castle County, Delaware
The Blackbird Pond on the Blackbird State Forest Meadows Tract in New Castle County, Delaware
A field north of Fox Den Road, along the Lenape Trail in Middle Run Valley Natural Area
Delaware Köppen climate classification is humid subtropical.
Delaware population density map
Picking Peaches in Delaware, from an 1878 issue of Harper's Weekly
Rehoboth Beach is a popular vacation spot during the summer months.
Fort Delaware State Park on Pea Patch Island is a popular spot during the spring and summer. A ferry takes visitors to the fort from nearby Delaware City.
University of Delaware
Delaware's license plate design, introduced in 1959, is the longest-running one in U.S. history.
Delaware Route 1 (DE1) is a partial toll road linking Fenwick Island and Wilmington.
Cape May–Lewes Ferry
Wilmington Station
The Delaware General Assembly meets in the Legislative Hall in Dover.
Joe Biden, the 46th president of the United States and a U.S. senator for Delaware from 1973 to 2009.
NASCAR racing at Dover Motor Speedway

Delaware essentially freed the few slaves who were still in bondage shortly after the Civil War but rejected the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution; the 13th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1865, the 14th Amendment was rejected on February 8, 1867, and the 15th Amendment was rejected on March 18, 1869.

Three-fifths Compromise

Agreement reached during the 1787 United States Constitutional Convention over the counting of slaves in determining a state's total population.

(The Thirteenth Amendment, passed in 1865, had already eliminated almost all persons from the original clause's jurisdiction by banning slavery; the only remaining persons subject to it were those sentenced for a crime to penal servitude, which the amendment excluded from the ban.)

Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

The Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal government and each state from denying or abridging a citizen's right to vote "on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."

The Fifteenth Amendment in the National Archives
An 1867 drawing depicting African Americans casting ballots
An 1869 Thomas Nast cartoon supporting the Fifteenth Amendment. In the cartoon, Americans of different ancestries and ethnic backgrounds sit together at a dinner table with Columbia to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal as equal members of the American citizenry, while Uncle Sam carves a turkey.
1870 print celebrating the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment in February 1870, and the post Civil War political empowerment of African Americans
Voter registration card, Alamance County, North Carolina, 1902, with statement from registrant of birth before January 1, 1867, when the Fifteenth Amendment became law
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the final years of the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era that followed, Congress repeatedly debated the rights of black former slaves freed by the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1865 Thirteenth Amendment, the latter of which had formally abolished slavery.

Black Codes (United States)

The Black Codes, sometimes called Black Laws, were laws governing the conduct of African Americans (free and freed blacks).

Convicts leased to harvest timber circa 1915, in Florida

Mississippi rejected the Thirteenth Amendment on December 5, 1865.