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What was the history of the Thirteenth Amendment ?
The war between the States being over, the Southern white people, as the governing class, returned at once to their duties under their several State Constitutions and the Constitution of the United States, and ten of their respective legislatures proceeded to emancipate the negro slaves. Alabama called a convention, and was the first Southern State to emancipate the negroes. The vote stood ninety-eight for, two against. Texas, Mississippi, and Florida followed as soon as possible. Hence the ample vote for the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.
The Confederate States having failed to bring about a final separation, it was held that in consequence of such failure each of them were in and of the Union. The logic of this position, voiced by the Supreme Court of the United States, met the approval of the Congress at Washington. Both sections acted together in adding the following amendment to the Constitution:
- ARTICLE THIRTEENTH. 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.
The following is the certificate of the Secretary of State of the United States, announcing the ratification of the foregoing article :
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State of the
United States : To all to whom these presents may come, Greeting :
Know ye, That whereas, the Congress of the United States, on the first of February last, passed a resolution, which is in the words following, namely: “A resolution submitting to the legislatures of the several States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States.
“ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both houses concurring) that the following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, when ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures, shall be valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said Constitution, namely;" (See Art. XIII., above.)
And whereas, it appears from official documents on file in this department that the amendment to the Constitution of the United States proposed as aforesaid, has been ratified by the legislatures of the States of Illinois, Rhode Island, Michigan, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, Maine, Kansas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Nevada, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, Tennessee, Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Alabama, North Carolina, and Georgia ; in all twenty-seven States;
And whereas, the whole number of States in the United States is thirty-six ; and whereas the before specially named States whose legislatures have ratified the said proposed amendment constitute three-fourths of the whole number of States in the United States :
Now, therefore, be it known that I, William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States, by virtue and in pursuance of the second section of the act of Congress, approved the twentieth of April, eighteen hundred and eighteen, entitled “ An act to provide for the publication of the laws of the United States, and for other purposes," do hereby certify that the amendment aforesaid has become valid, to all intents and purposes, as a part of the Constitution of the United States.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the Department of State to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington this eighteenth day of December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-five, and of the independence of the United States of America the ninetieth. [L. S.]
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
Does the Thirteenth Amendment fully abolish ?
No. Slavery and involuntary servitude are lawful as punishment for crime against a State or the United States. Convicted criminals of any race or complexion are included. Some States have sold and still sell the service and labor of convicts to the highest bidder.
It is plain that if the Thirteenth Amendment is valid, then the two succeeding ones cannot be.
Why so ?
The reconstruction legislation of 1866, having no constitutional warrant, was void. To have the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments ratified, it was suddenly discovered that the Southern States were not integral parts of the Union, and would have to be territorialized and readmitted. Negro suffrage was to be legalized by disfranchising the whites, save a small class called “ carpetbaggers.” New and pliant legislatures were set up in the military departments, presided over by pro-consuls.
Is the Fourteenth Amendment valid ?
Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Section 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and VicePresident of the United States, Representatives in