13Th Amendment Legalized Slavery

They wrote and passed the ordinance so that the inhabitants of this vast territory – a mixture of French, British, American and Indigenous populations with varying sympathies – would be encouraged to form states in the new nation. There were three Ordinances of the Northwest (1784, 1785, 1787), and although all three introduced provisions against slavery, the wording was adopted unanimously only in the last one. The states of Ohio (1803), Indiana (1816), Illinois (1818), Michigan (1837), Wisconsin (1848), and parts of present-day Minnesota (1858) tried to enforce this law when passing their constitutions. But loopholes for criminal punishment and fugitive slaves led to different interpretations by states, as pro-slavery sympathizers lived in the northern border regions between slave and free states. In 2020, Democrats in Congress introduced a joint resolution to remove the “punishment clause” from the 13th Amendment. The resolution is expected to pass by a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress. Then, three-quarters of the states would have to approve the change to become federal law. When the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1865, slavery was officially abolished throughout the United States – “except as punishment for crime.” In reality, politics has only abolished slavery – the form of slavery in which one person is seen as the property of another person. The Supreme Court has taken a particularly narrow view of claims of involuntary servitude by people who are not descended from black (African) slaves. In Robertson v. Baldwin (1897), a group of merchant seamen, challenged federal laws criminalizing a sailor`s failure to perform contract service.

The court ruled that seafarers` contracts had been considered unique since time immemorial and that “the amendment was not intended to introduce a new doctrine with respect to certain service descriptions that have always been treated as exceptional.” In this case, as in many cases of “badges and incidents,” Justice Harlan drafted a dissent advocating broader protection of the Thirteenth Amendment. [167] Since the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865, its exception clause has allowed slavery to persist for generations through penal systems. After the Civil War, many southern states introduced black codes: laws that restricted black labor by requiring apprenticeships and labor contracts for employment, often with former slave owners. Black codes also established convict rental systems and vagrant laws that provided incentives for the arrest, imprisonment, and subsequent reservation of blacks. These laws criminalized poverty, unemployment, and homelessness to meet the labor needs of former owners of enslaved people after emancipation. Just as black codes enacted after the Civil War to restrict the free exercise of these rights were substitutes for the slave system, so the exclusion of blacks from white communities became a substitute for black codes. And if racial discrimination pushes men into ghettos and directs their ability to buy goods in the color of their skin, then it is also a relic of slavery. This development of the Northwest Ordinance, state constitutions, the federal amendment, and the general loophole maneuver supports Bryan Stevenson`s assertion, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, that “slavery did not end in 1865, but only developed.” Now or beyond. If Mexican peonies or the Chinese Kuli labor system develop slavery of the Mexican or Chinese breed on our territory, one can certainly believe that this change will invalidate them. Therefore, if other rights are challenged by States that are duly and necessarily covered by the protection of those articles, that protection will apply, although the interested party may not be of African descent.

But what we are saying, and what we want to understand, is that in any fair and equitable construction of an article or sentence of these amendments, it is necessary to look at the purpose that we have said to be the penetrating spirit of each of them, the evil that they were supposed to repair, and the process of continuing to amend the Constitution. Until this objective is achieved, to the extent that constitutional law can fulfil it. [145] Decades of prison and civil rights activism have sought to improve the conditions and wages of incarcerated workers. In 1971, inmates at New York`s Attica Correctional Institution took control of the prison, highlighting a list of demands, including the right to join unions and earn a minimum wage. More recently, in the summer of 2018, forced prisoners in the United States went on strike to protest what they called “modern slavery.” Voting measures, while imperfect, are an important first step towards a complete rejection of slavery and involuntary servitude that persists in these states. While some critics may call these measures symbolic, they are important because changing the legal status of incarcerated workers may allow prison workers to claim certain protections and rights of workers. Previous challenges for prison workers to protect workers have failed largely due to slavery and loopholes in involuntary servitude. The United States cannot cope with the legacy of slavery in good faith while allowing the remnants of that economy to persist. Dehumanization allowed the evils of slavery.

Dehumanization allows slavery and involuntary servitude to continue under the guise of a prison state. While it is not wise to merge the specific horrors of slavery equally with those of the modern prison state, we should use the lessons of the slavery of movable property to shed light on what we are doing today. The words of our constitutions are important, and the people who are imprisoned remain people. Therefore, what we let happen behind these walls says more about our humanity than anything they have done. Slavery existed in the United States of America when it was founded in 1776 and was also legal in the United States at that time. It was established by European colonization in the thirteen original American colonies of British America. Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, the U.S. Constitution did not explicitly use the words slave or slavery, but contained several provisions on nonfree persons. The three-fifths compromise, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution, assigned representation to Congress based on the “total number of free persons” and “three-fifths of all other persons.” This clause was a compromise between southern politicians who wanted enslaved African Americans to be counted as “people” for congressional representation, and northern politicians who rejected it for the sake of too much power for the South because representation in the new Congress would be based on population. as opposed to the principle of one vote for one state in the previous Continental Congress.

[3] According to the Fugitive Slave Clause, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, “no person detained to serve or work in one state” would be released by fleeing to another.