Civil Rights

Ratification of Constitutional Amendment that abolished slavery occurred 150 years ago

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African-American History

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that abolished slavery in the United States was ratified by the necessary number of states on Dec. 6, 1865, 150 years ago Sunday.

13th Amendment abolishes slavery
13th Amendment abolishes slavery

The 13th Amendment, ratified eight months after the end of the Civil War, reads, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” shall exist in the United States.

It gave Congress the power to enforce this article by legislation. The amendment had been preceded by a federal restriction on the importation of slaves in 1808, by the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, and by legislative bans against slavery in many of the states prior to 1865, but the 13th Amendment was the first unconditional constitutional action to terminate the institution of slavery and the first of the amendments to protect the equal status of African Americans (others are the 14th, 15th, and 24th amendments), according to the website African  American Ancestry.

The dates of ratification were: Illinois, February 1, 1865; Rhode Island, February 2, 1865; Michigan, February 2, 1865; Maryland, February 3, 1865; New York, February 3, 1865; Pennsylvania, February 3, 1865; West Virginia, February 3, 1865; Missouri, February 6, 1865; Maine, February 7, 1865; Kansas, February 7, 1865; Massachusetts, February 7, 1865; Virginia, February 9, 1865; Ohio, February 10, 1865; Indiana, February 13, 1865; Nevada, February 16, 1865; Louisiana, February 17, 1865; Minnesota, February 23, 1865; Wisconsin, February 24, 1865; Vermont, March 9, 1865; Tennessee, April 7, 1865; Arkansas, April 14, 1865; Connecticut, May 4, 1865; New Hampshire, July 1, 1865; South Carolina, November 13, 1865; Alabama, December 2, 1865; North Carolina, December 4, 1865; Georgia, December 6, 1865.

There were 3.9 million slaves in the United States in 1860.


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