13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
13th Amendment to the Constitution declared that "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." Formally abolishing slavery in
the United States, the 13th Amendment was passed by the
Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the states
on December 6, 1865.
Congress Web Site | External Web
Sites | Selected
Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation
This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.
References to debate on the 13th Amendment (S.J. Res. 16) can be found in the Congressional Globe on the following dates:
- March 31, 1864 - Debated in the Senate (S.J. Res. 16).
- April 4, 1864 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 5, 1864 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 6, 1864 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 7, 1864 - Debated in the Senate.
- April 8, 1864 - The
Senate passed the 13th Amendment (S.J. Res. 16) by a vote of 38 to 6.
- June 14, 1864 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- June 15, 1864 - The House of Representatives initially defeated the 13th Amendment
(S.J. Res. 16) by a vote of 93 in favor, 65 opposed, and 23 not voting, which is less than the two-thirds majority needed to pass a Constitutional Amendment.
- December 6, 1864 - Abraham Lincoln's Fourth Annual Message to Congress was printed in the Congressional Globe: "At the last session of Congress a proposed amendment
of the Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States, passed
the Senate, but failed for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote in the House
of Representatives. Although the present is the same Congress, and nearly
the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those
who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage
of the measure at the present session."
- January 6, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives (S.J. Res. 16).
- January 7, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 9, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 10, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 11, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 12, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 13, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 28, 1865 - Debated in the House of Representatives.
- January 31, 1865 - The House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment
(S.J. Res. 16) by a vote of 119 to 56.
- February 1, 1865 - President
Abraham Lincoln signed a Joint Resolution submitting
the proposed 13th Amendment to the states.
- December 18, 1865 - Secretary
of State William Seward issued a statement
verifying the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents. The collection is organized into three "General Correspondence" series which include incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material. Most of the 20,000 items are from the 1850s through Lincoln's presidential years, 1860-65.
A selection of highlights from this collection includes:
Abraham Lincoln Papers using the phrase "13th
amendment" to locate additional documents on this
The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana
This collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics.
Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection,
This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.
This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1836 to 1922. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the 13th Amendment.
A selection of articles on the 13th Amendment includes:
- "Freedom Triumphant," New-York Daily Tribune. (New York, NY), February 1, 1865.
- "Glory to God! The Constitutional Amendment Passed the House by a Vote of 119 to 56," Fremont Journal. (Fremont, OH), February 3, 1865.
- "The Constitutional Amendment," The Daily Phoenix. (Columbia, SC), December 14, 1865.
- "The Official Announcement of the Adoption of the Constitutional Amendment--Opinions of the Leading Press," Daily National Republican. (Washington, D.C.), December 21, 1865.
Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and Interpretation (popularly known as the Constitution Annotated) contains legal analysis and interpretation of the United States Constitution, based primarily on Supreme Court case law. This regularly updated resource is especially useful when researching the constitutional implications of a specific issue or topic. It includes a chapter on the 13th Amendment. (PDF, 201 KB)
This exhibit marks the publication of The African-American
Mosaic: A Library of Congress Resource Guide for the
Study of Black History and Culture. This exhibit is a
sampler of the kinds of materials and themes covered
by this publication. Includes a section on the abolition movement
and the end of slavery.
American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This exhibition showcases the African American collections
of the Library of Congress. Displays more than 240 items,
including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps,
musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. Includes
a brochure from an exhibit at the Library of Congress
to mark the 75th
Anniversary of the 13th Amendment.
Treasures of the Library of Congress: Abolition of Slavery
An online exhibit of the engrossed copy of the 13th
Amendment as signed by Abraham Lincoln and members of
The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom
This exhibition, which commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, explores the events that shaped the civil rights movement, as well as the far-reaching impact the act had on a changing society.
American Memory Timeline: The Freedmen
The Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment freed all slaves in the United States. This page links to related primary source documents.
Works of Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Association
from Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation,
1861-1867, University of Maryland
End of Slavery:
The Creation of the 13th Amendment, HarpWeek
Will Be Heard!” Abolitionism in America, Cornell
University Library, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Landmark Legislation: Thirteenth, Fourteenth, & Fifteenth Amendments, U.S. Senate
Lincoln and Freedom, The Lincoln Institute
Documents, 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,
National Archives and Records Administration
Proclamation of the Secretary of State Regarding the Ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, National Archives and Records Administration
Proposed Thirteenth Amendment Regarding the Abolition of Slavery, National Archives and Records Administration
The Thirteenth Amendment, National Constitution Center
Avins, Alfred, comp. The Reconstruction Amendments' Debates: The Legislative History and Contemporary Debates in Congress on the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Richmond: Virginia Commission on Constitutional Government, 1967. [Catalog
Hoemann, George H. What God Hath
Wrought: The Embodiment of Freedom in the Thirteenth
Amendment. New York: Garland
Pub., 1987. [Catalog
Holzer, Harold, and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, eds. Lincoln
and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth
Amendment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University
Press, 2007. [Catalog
Maltz, Earl M. Civil Rights, the
Constitution, and Congress, 1863-1869. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas,
Richards, Leonard L. Who Freed the Slaves?: The Fight Over the Thirteenth Amendment. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2015. [Catalog
Alexander, ed. The Promises of Liberty: The History and Contemporary Relevance of the Thirteenth Amendment. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. [Catalog
-----. The Thirteenth Amendment
and American Freedom: A Legal History. New York:
New York University Press, 2004. [Catalog
Vorenberg, Michael. Final Freedom:
The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. [Catalog
Biscontini, Tracey and Rebecca Sparling, eds. Amendment XIII: Abolishing Slavery. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2009. [Catalog Record]
Burgan, Michael. The Reconstruction Amendments. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2006. [Catalog
Schleichert, Elizabeth. The Thirteenth
Amendment: Ending Slavery. Springfield, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 1998. [Catalog