13th Amendment, Constitution, Bill of Rights

Thomas' Legion
American Civil War HOMEPAGE
American Civil War
Causes of the Civil War : What Caused the Civil War
Organization of Union and Confederate Armies: Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery
Civil War Navy: Union Navy and Confederate Navy
American Civil War: The Soldier's Life
Civil War Turning Points
American Civil War: Casualties, Battles and Battlefields
Civil War Casualties, Fatalities & Statistics
Civil War Generals
American Civil War Desertion and Deserters: Union and Confederate
Civil War Prisoner of War: Union and Confederate Prison History
Civil War Reconstruction Era and Aftermath
American Civil War Genealogy and Research
Civil War
American Civil War Pictures - Photographs
African Americans and American Civil War History
American Civil War Store
American Civil War Polls
North Carolina Civil War History
North Carolina American Civil War Statistics, Battles, History
North Carolina Civil War History and Battles
North Carolina Civil War Regiments and Battles
North Carolina Coast: American Civil War
Western North Carolina and the American Civil War
Western North Carolina: Civil War Troops, Regiments, Units
North Carolina: American Civil War Photos
Cherokee Chief William Holland Thomas
Cherokee Indian Heritage, History, Culture, Customs, Ceremonies, and Religion
Cherokee Indians: American Civil War
History of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian Nation
Cherokee War Rituals, Culture, Festivals, Government, and Beliefs
Researching your Cherokee Heritage
Civil War Diary, Memoirs, Letters, and Newspapers

13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Proposal and Ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution

Proposal and Ratification

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several states by the Thirty-eighth United States Congress, on January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the legislatures of twenty-seven of the thirty-six states on December 6, 1865. (It was ratified by the necessary three-quarters of the states within one year of its proposal.) Mississippi, however, which was the last of the thirty-six states in existence in 1865, ratified it in 1995. The list of states and dates of ratification were:

# State Date
1 Illinois Feb 1, 1865
2 Rhode Island Feb 2, 1865
3 Michigan Feb 3, 1865
4 Maryland Feb 3, 1865
5 New York Feb 3, 1865
6 Pennsylvania Feb 3, 1865
7 West Virginia Feb 3, 1865
8 Missouri Feb 6, 1865
9 Maine Feb 7, 1865
10 Kansas Feb 7, 1865
11 Massachusetts Feb 7, 1865
12 Virginia Feb 9, 1865
13 Ohio Feb 10, 1865
14 Indiana Feb 13, 1865
15 Nevada Feb 16, 1865
16 Louisiana Feb 17, 1865
17 Minnesota Feb 23, 1865
18 Wisconsin Feb 24, 1865
19 Vermont Mar 8, 1865
20 Tennessee Apr 7, 1865
21 Arkansas Apr 14, 1865
22 Connecticut May 4, 1865
23 New Hampshire Jul 1, 1865
24 South Carolina Nov 13, 1865
25 Alabama Dec 2, 1865
26 North Carolina Dec 4, 1865
27 Georgia Dec 6, 1865
28 Oregon Dec 8, 1865
29 California Dec 19, 1865
30 Florida Dec 28, 1865
31 Iowa Jan 15, 1866
32 New Jersey Jan 23, 1866
33 Texas Feb 18, 1870
34 Delaware Feb 12, 1901
35 Kentucky Mar 18, 1976
36 Mississippi Mar 16, 1995

Sources: Library of Congress (Primary Documents in American History); U.S. Constitution Online; National Archives United States Constitution

Recommended Reading: Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Hardcover). Description: Lincoln’s reelection in 1864 was a pivotal moment in the history of the United States. The Emancipation Proclamation had officially gone into effect on January 1, 1863, and the proposed Thirteenth Amendment had become a campaign issue. Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment captures these historic times, profiling the individuals, events, and enactments that led to slavery’s abolition. Fifteen leading Lincoln scholars contribute to this collection, covering slavery from its roots in 1619 Jamestown, through the adoption of the Constitution, to Abraham Lincoln’s presidency. Continued below…

This comprehensive volume, edited by Harold Holzer and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, presents Abraham Lincoln’s response to the issue of slavery as politician, president, writer, orator, and commander-in-chief. Topics include the history of slavery in North America, the Supreme Court’s Dred Scott decision, the evolution of Lincoln’s view of presidential powers, the influence of religion on Lincoln, and the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation. This collection effectively explores slavery as a Constitutional issue, both from the viewpoint of the original intent of the nation’s founders as they failed to deal with slavery, and as a study of the Constitutional authority of the commander-in-chief as Lincoln interpreted it. Addressed are the timing of Lincoln’s decision for emancipation and its effect on the public, the military, and the slaves themselves. Other topics covered include the role of the U.S. Colored Troops, the election campaign of 1864, and the legislative debate over the Thirteenth Amendment. The volume concludes with a heavily illustrated essay on the role that iconography played in forming and informing public opinion about emancipation and the amendments that officially granted freedom and civil rights to African Americans. Lincoln and Freedom provides a comprehensive political history of slavery in America and offers a rare look at how Lincoln’s views, statements, and actions played a vital role in the story of emancipation.

Site search Web search

Recommended Reading: Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) (Hardcover). Library Journal: This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. Continued below…

The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. "...Outstanding addition for the individual interested in American history, slavery and abolition, and the U.S. Constitution and 13th Amendment."


Recommended Reading: Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America (Simon & Schuster). Description: One of the nation's foremost Lincoln scholars offers an authoritative consideration of the document that represents the most far-reaching accomplishment of our greatest president. No single official paper in American history changed the lives of as many Americans as Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. But no American document has been held up to greater suspicion. Its bland and lawyerlike language is unfavorably compared to the soaring eloquence of the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural; its effectiveness in freeing the slaves has been dismissed as a legal illusion. And for some African-Americans the Proclamation raises doubts about Lincoln himself. Continued below…

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation dispels the myths and mistakes surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation and skillfully reconstructs how America's greatest president wrote the greatest American proclamation of freedom. About the Author: Allen C. Guelzo is the Grace Ferguson Kea Professor of American History at Eastern University (St. David's, Pennsylvania), where he also directs the Templeton Honors College. He is the author of five books, most recently the highly acclaimed Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, which won the Lincoln Prize for 2000.
Recommended Reading: The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction. Review: "The Bill of Rights stands as the high temple of our constitutional order--America's Parthenon--and yet we lack a clear view of it," Akhil Reed Amar writes in his introduction to The Bill of Rights. "Instead of being studied holistically, the Bill has been broken up ... with each segment examined in isolation." With The Bill of Rights, Amar aims to put the pieces back together and take a longer view of a document few Americans truly understand. Part history of the Bill, part analysis of the Founding Fathers' intentions, this book provides a unique interpretation of the Constitution. It is Amar's hypothesis that, contrary to popular belief, the Bill of Rights was not originally constructed to protect the minority against the majority, but rather to empower popular majorities. It wasn't until 19th-century post-Civil War reconstruction and the introduction of the 14th Amendment that the notion of individual rights took hold. Continued below... 
Prior to that, the various amendments to the Constitution that make up the Bill of Rights were more about the structure of government and designed to protect citizens against a self-interested regime. Yet so great has been the impact of the 14th Amendment on modern legal thought that the Bill's original intentions have almost been forgotten. Through skillful interpretation and solid research, Amar both reconstructs the original thinking of the Founding Fathers and chronicles the radical changes that have occurred since the inclusion of the 14th Amendment in the Bill of Rights. The results make for provocative reading no matter where you stand on the political spectrum.


Recommended Reading: Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President (Library of Religious Biography). Description: Since its original publication in 1999, "Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President" has garnered numerous accolades, including the prestigious 2000 Lincoln Prize. Allen Guelzo's peerless biography of America's most celebrated president is now available for the first time in a fine paperback edition. The first "intellectual biography" of Lincoln, this work explores the role of ideas in Lincoln's life, treating him as a serious thinker deeply involved in the nineteenth-century debates over politics, religion, and culture. Continued below...

Written with passion and dramatic impact, Guelzo's masterful study offers a revealing new perspective on a man whose life was in many ways a paradox. As journalist Richard N. Ostling notes, "Much has been written about Lincoln's belief and disbelief," but Guelzo's extraordinary account "goes deeper."

Recommended Reading: Origins of the Bill of Rights (Yale Contemporary Law Series). From Library Journal: Constitutional historian Levy, author of 36 books concerning American politics and constitutional issues (e.g., The Palladium of Justice: Origins of Trial by Jury), provides a systematic and comprehensive analysis of the origins of the Bill of Rights and other constitutional provisions that protect rights. His historical analysis frames fundamental principles of "liberty" and "rights" by interpreting each of the first nine amendments to the Constitution and demonstrating differences between 18th-century American ideals and English common-law practice. Continued below...

His informative arguments in this important work concern nature and the sources of the Bill of Rights within American democracy, providing understanding for both scholars and citizens. Levy's approach to these controversial values, which protect the rights of the people, will be the source of future legal and public discussion. A significant contribution to understanding the Bill of Rights; highly recommended.

Recommended Reading: The Thirteenth Amendment and American Freedom: A Legal History (Constitutional Amendments) (Hardcover). Description: In this narrative history and contextual analysis of the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery and freedom take center stage. Alexander Tsesis demonstrates how entrenched slavery was in pre-Civil War America, how central it was to the political events that resulted in the Civil War, and how it was the driving force that led to the adoption of an amendment that ultimately provided a substantive assurance of freedom for all American citizens. The story of how Supreme Court justices have interpreted the Thirteenth Amendment, first through racist lenses after Reconstruction and later influenced by the modern civil rights movement, provides insight into the tremendous impact the Thirteenth Amendment has had on the Constitution and American culture. Importantly, Tsesis also explains why the Thirteenth Amendment is essential to contemporary America, offering fresh analysis on the role the Amendment has played regarding civil rights legislation and personal liberty case decisions, and an original explanation of the substantive guarantees of freedom for today's society that the Reconstruction Congress envisioned over a century ago. See reviews below…

"[A] comprehensive and brilliant book from both a historical and analytical perspective. Drawing from the lessons of history, Alexander Tsesis shows persuasively the relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment to a wide range of the social and economic issues currently facing America, and he offers highly creative arguments that support the use of congressional power under the Thirteenth Amendment as a potent and effective means of meeting and resolving these issues."

—G. Sidney Buchanan, Baker & Botts Chaired Professor of Law, University of Houston Law Center


"Tsesis vigorously presents a set of arguments that are rarely found in the conventional legal literature. . . . an interesting and challenging book."

Sanford Levinson, University of Texas Law School


"For those looking for arguments to revitalize and expand the use of the Thirteenth Amendment, this is an interesting piece of advocacy."

—Journal of American History


"...audacious and original. He (Tsesis) offers a blueprint as to how desperately needed reforms...can come about."

—Richard Delgado in Michigan Law Review


"Alexander Tsesis's invigorating reevaluation of the Thirteenth Amendment agrees with many Lincoln Republicans that it embraced the Declaration of Independence."

—Harold Hyman, Rice University


"This book deserves applause because it illuminates in a new and stimulating way methods for repairing the harm done by racist rhetoric, hate crimes, and the newest forms of slavery."

—The American Historical Review


"...a challenging and nicely written book that will teach well."



"In this interesting study, Alexander Tsesis argues for an expansive view of the Thirteenth Amendment, presenting it as an effort to permanently abolish all the incidents and badges of slavery in America, including both governmentally and privately sponsored forms of oppression against former slaves and others."

—The Law and Politics Review

Editor's Choice: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns. Review: The Civil War - A Film by Ken Burns is the most successful public-television miniseries in American history. The 11-hour Civil War didn't just captivate a nation, reteaching to us our history in narrative terms; it actually also invented a new film language taken from its creator. When people describe documentaries using the "Ken Burns approach," its style is understood: voice-over narrators reading letters and documents dramatically and stating the writer's name at their conclusion, fresh live footage of places juxtaposed with still images (photographs, paintings, maps, prints), anecdotal interviews, and romantic musical scores taken from the era he depicts. Continued below...
The Civil War uses all of these devices to evoke atmosphere and resurrect an event that many knew only from stale history books. While Burns is a historian, a researcher, and a documentarian, he's above all a gifted storyteller, and it's his narrative powers that give this chronicle its beauty, overwhelming emotion, and devastating horror. Using the words of old letters, eloquently read by a variety of celebrities, the stories of historians like Shelby Foote and rare, stained photos, Burns allows us not only to relearn and finally understand our history, but also to feel and experience it. "Hailed as a film masterpiece and landmark in historical storytelling." "[S]hould be a requirement for every student."

Return to American Civil War Homepage

Best viewed with Internet Explorer or Google Chrome

Google Safe.jpg