Effect and Implications

Many people view the Emancipation Proclamation as the reason slavery was abolished. This is not entirely true, because although President Abraham Lincoln issued it, he knew that as a single man, he could not reasonably defend and enforce it, even if he was the leader of the nation.The 13th Amendment, however, was officially passed through Congress. This meant that most of the country, at least the northern elected officials, felt that the slavery was an institution that they no longer wanted in their nation.

As this amendment passed, so too did the years of torment experienced by African Americans who were treated as nothing but “property”. African Americans could no longer be held as possessions, they did not have to take orders from their white masters, and they could take their families and start to build their lives freely and without the fear of being sold or separated. That being said, the 13th Amendment did not make African Americans truly equal. It granted them their freedom, but did nothing to guarantee them with voting rights, benefits, or the same opportunities as their white countrymen. America itself was still incredibly racist, in the North and the South, and this racial discrimination and prejudice wouldn’t officially end until the 1960s after the Civil Rights Movement. And even this isn’t necessarily the truth. Although today racism is illegal in this country, it doesn’t stop the stereotyping and prejudice that still exists is American society today.

Even though slavery itself was abolished with the 13th Amendment, prejudice against African Americans persists to this day, founded in the deep roots of slavery that gripped the country as far back as the first colonies. As America was fighting for its independence, slavery stood as a stark contradiction to their ideals of equality. This type of cemented history is hard to break away from, but steps like the 13th Amendment put the country on the right path to overcoming its past grievances.

Published in: Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 at11:44 pm Comments (5)

Background

Originally, the Thirteenth Amendment was actually meant to guarantee slavery. Before the Civil War broke out, both the Senate and the House passed the bill in a last ditch effort to keep the country united. It was stopped from being ratified as the Union dissolved and the South began to secede, halting it from becoming a real law.

The Thirteenth Amendment famous today actually faced many difficulties trying to get passed. Despite the fact that it was proposed during the years of the Civil War, meaning that the only states that would have a say in its future were those on the side of the Union, it met heavy opposition in the House of Representatives. After being passed by the Senate in 1864 with an overwhelming majority vote, it was defeated in the House on a vote of 93 to 65. This was due to the fact that the abolition of slavery was largely a Republican policy, and therefore, only four Democrats voted for the legislation to pass.

After this failure, President Abraham Lincoln, an active supporter of the abolition of slavery, began to take a more active role to get the bill passed. He added the passing of the amendment to his platform for the upcoming Presidential election and used his persuasive skills and reputation to gain additional votes from the democrats. The Amendment officially passed through the House in January 1865, with a majority vote of 119 to 56.

After the amendment was passed through Congress, it was officially ratified as a constitutional amendment on December 6th, 1865.

The opposition Lincoln faced in getting Congress to pass the amendment highlights an often overlooked aspect of the war. Although his Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect for twelve months, there were still many people in the north who did not approve of the abolition of slavery. Most historians paint the war as having to faces; the slaveholding South and the abolitionist North. The difficulty in passing the 13th Amendment shows us that although some people in the north did indeed believe in ending slavery,  a large number were indifferent or even opposed to it just as much as the South was.

 

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The Document

Document Text:

Section I:  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 II:  Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

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