Sunday, February 1, 2015

Civil War Sunday - The Thirteenth Amendment

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 their jurisdiction.
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.

7 comments:

  1. Lincoln was such a good movie. It's one of those movies I'll have my girls watch when they get a little older.

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    1. I agree. I felt the movie was well done - and quite educational, once children are old enough to get something out of it.

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  2. It's the contradictions that make history fascinating, like the idea that all men are created equal... except for some.

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    1. So important for people to realize history is never clear cut. After all, it is the story of humanity.

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  3. I feel so empathetic toward slaves. Any type. I can imagine being in that position with no way out. Thank goodness for good men who thought the problem through and tried to do something about it.

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    1. Ah yes, they tried. But if they had the ability to see into the future, they would have been horrified to see the years of suffering ahead for the former slaves and their descendents. And, to know that slavery still exists in the United States in various forms - all illegal, but underground for that reason.

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  4. I haven't seen the movie yet, but its on my watch list. I cannot understand how we as a people still have not learned from our ancestors mistakes. Slavery being one of them. Will our descendants look back at todays news stories and wonder at our choices? Rioting in the streets or peaceful protests? Which should we do?

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