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13th Amendment: The End of Slavery And The Beginning Of The Fight For Equality

Dec 18, 2020 08:00AM ● By Kassidy Garland
cotton plantation slavery

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.

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Although the ending of slavery is often credited to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the amendment to the constitution was not ratified until December 18, 1865. President Lincoln abhorred slavery as a reprehensible moral evil, but he had difficulty figuring out exactly what to do about the situation.

The Emancipation Proclamation announced that all enslaved people held in the confederate states “then in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” The President’s announcement of freedom to enslaved peoples was to ensure a Union victory over the Confederate South by removing their largest economic resource.

The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, but was not passed in the House until January 31st of the following year. Lincoln would sign the approval shortly after on February 1st. Unfortunately, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth before he had the chance to see it ratified by 3/4ths of states on December 6, 1865.The following year, Congress passed the nation's first civil rights bill.  

Contrary to popular belief, the 13th amendment was the first to actually mention slavery or involuntary servitude. The practice, however, had been around for about 400 years. After the official ratification of the amendment, slaves changed hands rather than maintaining their freedom.

After the freedom of slaves was granted, the manner in which they were enslaved changed. The 13th amendment allowed for involuntary servitude as a form of punishment, so Black people were targeted for minor crimes in order to fill the prison system with a workforce. Laws were eventually passed forcing the African American population into a second class citizenship. Lynchings, mass incarceration, and segregation continued well into the 20th century.

Even today, Black people are often targeted for minor crimes at a higher rate than those of other backgrounds. Low-level offenses like possession of marijuana, loitering, and selling pirated CDs has caused over-policing of Black communities, and politicians and the rest of the country started to associate crime with those communities.


Treatment of minorities in this country, specifically Black people have been both aggressive and/or dismissive. In recent years, the Black community within the U.S. has been fighting for human rights in the form of Black Lives Matter protests and campaigns. Support from major corporations, politicians, and celebrities have made it more visible in the media, and still 155 years after the passing of the 13th amendment, Black citizens are fighting for equal rights and opportunities in this country.

 Kassidy Garland has had a great appreciation for reading and writing since she was young. She graduated from West Chester University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English & Women and Gender Studies. With a concentration in creative writing, Kassidy has 5 years of experience writing blogs, articles, and for social media. Based out of Philadelphia, Kassidy loves to write about a number of topics and looks forward to sharing her passion with those at FunTimes Magazine.