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Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

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Published on Aug 1, 2014

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 on December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William H. Seward proclaimed its adoption. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted following the American Civil War.
Slavery had been tacitly protected in the original Constitution through clauses such as the Three-Fifths Compromise, by which three-fifths of the slave population was counted for representation in the United States House of Representatives. Though many slaves had been declared free by Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain. On April 8, 1864, the Senate passed an amendment to abolish slavery. After one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by nearly all Northern states, along with a sufficient number of border and "reconstructed" Southern states, to cause it to be adopted before the end of the year.


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