On January 31, 1865, (150 years ago yesterday) Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. It was ratified on December 6, 1865 and adopted on December 18, 1865.
It is a brief amendment, but sometimes, it doesn't take much to say what needs to be said.
"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except
as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly
convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
And, in two small paragraphs, slavery was outlawed in the United States. Just like that.
No, not just like that. The Civil War was still being fought on January 31, 1865, and, before it was over, over 620,000 people would be dead (it is believed by many that figure is underestimated.) The war (contrary to a lot of popular opinion) was not fought purely to free slaves - there were a lot of reasons for the war. But, as the war progressed, it became more and more clear that, if the South lost its bid to secede from the union, slavery would also end. At least, officially
Slavery had existed here since the Europeans founded colonies. But, our Constitution had never before mentioned the word "slavery" or "slave".
If you want to learn more about the events leading to the passage of the 13th amendment, the 2012 movie Lincoln's plot revolves around Lincoln's efforts to get this amendment passed. Or, better yet, go to the historical source documents.
Or even read this blogger's perspective.
It is obvious that we have a lot of unfinished work in this country.