The Constitution of the United StatesThe Bill of Rights & All AmendmentsA highly accessible, easy to use online version full text transcript including the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Amendments with both sequential and subject indexes.Note—spellings are from the original documents: see list.
Constitution for the United States of America
We the People of the United States, in Order toform a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure theBlessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establishthis Constitutionfor the United States of America. Article. I.Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. Section. 2.The House of Representatives shall be composed ofMembers chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and theElectors in each State shall have the Qualificationsrequisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature. No Person shall be a Representative who shall nothave attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizenof the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of thatState in which he shall be chosen. Representatives and direct Taxes shall beapportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union,according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding tothe whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Termof Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all otherPersons [Modified by Amendment XIV]. The actualEnumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of theCongress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years,in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shallnot exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each Stateshall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall bemade, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three,Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticutfive, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Marylandsix, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three. When vacancies happen in the Representation from anyState, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fillsuch Vacancies. The House of Representatives shall chuse theirSpeaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. Section. 3.The Senate of the United States shall be composed of twoSenators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof [Modified by Amendment XVII], for six Years; and eachSenator shall have one Vote. Immediately after they shall be assembled inConsequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may beinto three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall bevacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at theExpiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of thesixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and ifVacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of theLegislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointmentsuntil the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill suchVacancies [Modified by Amendment XVII]. No Person shall be a Senator who shall not haveattained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of theUnited States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that Statefor which he shall be chosen. The Vice President of the United States shall bePresident of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equallydivided. The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and alsoa President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shallexercise the Office of President of the United States. The Senate shall have the sole Power to try allImpeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath orAffirmation. When the President of the United States istried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convictedwithout the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extendfurther than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy anyOffice of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Partyconvicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial,Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. Section. 4.The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections forSenators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by theLegislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter suchRegulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators. The Congress shall assemble at least once in everyYear, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December [Modifiedby Amendment XX], unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day. Section. 5.Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returnsand Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitutea Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, andmay be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner,and under such Penalties as each House may provide. Each House may determine the Rules of itsProceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with theConcurrence of two thirds, expel a Member. Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings,and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in theirJudgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either Houseon any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be enteredon the Journal. Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall,without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to anyother Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting. Section. 6.The Senators and Representatives shall receive aCompensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of theTreasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felonyand Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance atthe Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from thesame; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not bequestioned in any other Place. No Senator or Representative shall, during the Timefor which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authorityof the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereofshall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Officeunder the United States, shall be a Member of either House during hisContinuance in Office. Section. 7.All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in theHouse of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendmentsas on other Bills. Every Bill which shall have passed the House ofRepresentatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented tothe President of the United States;If heapprove he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections tothat House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections atlarge on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after suchReconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shallbe sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shalllikewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shallbecome a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall bedetermined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for andagainst the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. Ifany Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundaysexcepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law,in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournmentprevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law. Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which theConcurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (excepton a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the UnitedStates; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, orbeing disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate andHouse of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed inthe Case of a Bill. Section. 8.The Congress shall have PowerTo lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts andExcises, topay the Debts and provide for thecommon Defence andgeneral Welfare of the United States;but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniformthroughout the United States; To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; To regulate Commercewithforeign Nations, andamong the several States, andwith the Indian Tribes; To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, anduniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States; To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and offoreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures; To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting theSecurities and current Coin of the United States; To establish Post Offices and post Roads; To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts,by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right totheir respective Writings and Discoveries; To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supremeCourt; To define and punishPiracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas,andOffences against the Law of Nations; To declare War, grant Letters of Marque andReprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation ofMoney to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation ofthe land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to executethe Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide fororganizing,arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and forgoverning such Part of them as may be employed in theService of the United States, reserving to the States respectively,the Appointment of the Officers, andthe Authority of training the Militia according tothe discipline prescribed by Congress; To exercise exclusiveLegislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding tenMiles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance ofCongress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States,and to exercise like Authority over all Placespurchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Sameshall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and otherneedful Buildings; — And To make all Laws which shall be necessary and properfor carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vestedby this Constitutionin the Government of the United States, or in anyDepartment or Officer thereof. Section. 9.The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any ofthe States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited bythe Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Taxor duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for eachPerson. The Privilege of the Writof Habeas Corpus shall notbe suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safetymay require it. No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall bepassed. No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid,unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to betaken. No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exportedfrom any State. No Preference shall be given by any Regulation ofCommerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shallVessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Dutiesin another. No Money shall be drawn fromthe Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law;and a regular Statement and Account of the Receiptsand Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time. No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the UnitedStates: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall,without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office,or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State. Section. 10.No State shallenter into anyTreaty, Alliance, or Confederation;grant Letters ofMarque and Reprisal;coin Money;emit Bills of Credit;makeany Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts;pass any Bill of Attainder,ex post facto Law, orLawimpairing the Obligation of Contracts, orgrant anyTitle of Nobility. No State shall, withoutthe Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports,except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws;and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laidby any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of theUnited States;and all such Laws shall be subject tothe Revision and Controul of the Congress. No State shall, without the Consent of Congress,lay any Duty of Tonnage,keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace,enter into any Agreement or Compact with anotherState,or with a foreign Power,or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in suchimminent Danger as will not admit of delay. Article. II.Section. 1.The executive Power shall be vested in a President ofthe United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of fourYears, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, beelected, as follows: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as theLegislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Numberof Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in theCongress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office ofTrust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector. The Electors shall meet in their respectiveStates, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not bean Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List ofall the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List theyshall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government ofthe United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President ofthe Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives,open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Personhaving the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be aMajority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more thanone who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the Houseof Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President;and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List thesaid House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing thePresident, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from eachState having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member orMembers from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shallbe necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, thePerson having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the VicePresident. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, theSenate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President [Modified by Amendment XII]. The Congress may determine the Time of chusing theElectors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall bethe same throughout the United States. No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizenof the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shallbe eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible tothat Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, andbeen fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. In Case of the Removal of the President fromOffice, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers andDuties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, andthe Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation orInability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officershall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until theDisability be removed, or a President shall be elected [Modified by Amendment XXV]. The President shall, at stated Times, receive for hisServices, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminishedduring the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall notreceive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or anyof them. Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, heshall take the following Oath or Affirmation: — "I do solemnly swear(or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of theUnited States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defendthe Constitution of the United States." Section. 2.The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Armyand Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, whencalled into the actual Service of the United States; he may require theOpinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executiveDepartments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respectiveOffices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offencesagainst the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. He shall have Power, by and with the Advice andConsent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senatorspresent concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consentof the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls,Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whoseAppointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall beestablished by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of suchinferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courtsof Law, or in the Heads of Departments. The President shall have Power to fill up allVacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by grantingCommissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session. Section. 3. He shall fromtime to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, andrecommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary andexpedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or eitherof them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time ofAdjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; heshall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care thatthe Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of theUnited States. Section. 4. The President,Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removedfrom Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or otherhigh Crimes and Misdemeanors. Article. III.Section. 1. The judicialPower of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in suchinferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. TheJudges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Officesduring good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services aCompensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office. Section. 2.The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law andEquity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, andTreaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; — to allCases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; — to allCases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; — to Controversies to whichthe United States shall be a Party; — to Controversies between two or moreStates; — between a State and Citizens of another State [Modified by Amendment XI]; — between Citizens ofdifferent States; — between Citizens of the same State claiming Landsunder Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof,and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects. In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other publicMinisters and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supremeCourt shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases beforementioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Lawand Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congressshall make. The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases ofImpeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State wherethe said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within anyState, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Lawhave directed. Section. 3.Treason against the United States shall consist only inlevying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid andComfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of twoWitnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare thePunishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption ofBlood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. Article. IV.Section. 1. Full Faith andCredit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicialProceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Lawsprescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall beproved, and the Effect thereof. Section. 2.The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to allPrivileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States. A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony,or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State,shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, bedelivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime. No Person held to Service or Labour in one State,under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Lawor Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall bedelivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may bedue [Modified by Amendment XIII]. Section. 3.New States may be admitted by the Congress into thisUnion; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction ofany other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States,or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the Statesconcerned as well as of the Congress. The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and makeall needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Propertybelonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be soconstrued as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particularState. Section. 4. The United Statesshall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of theLegislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened),against domestic Violence.
Constitution for the United States of America
More on the Subject Index | Bill of Rights | Additional Amendments | Printer friendly version [Constitutionfor the United States of America] We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitutionfor the United States of America.
The United States Constitution - The U.S. Constitution Online
Quick Links: FAQ Topics Forums Documents Timeline Kids Vermont Constitution Map Citation The United States ConstitutionToday's special event:March 16, 1751, is President James Madison's birthday.The Constitution is presented in several ways on this site. This pagepresents the Constitution on one large HTML-enhanced page. Other pages presentthe Constitution as a series of individual pages, inplain text, in standard Palm DOCformat, and in enhanced TealDoc format. A quick referenceis also available, as are photos of the Constitution. The Constitution of Chinais available forcomparison. In these pages, superseded text is presented like this: (This is superseded text.) Added text that is not a part ofthe Constitution is presented like this: (This is added text.) US Constitution Table of ContentsPreambleArticle 1 - The Legislative BranchSection 1 - The LegislatureSection 2 - The HouseSection 3 - The SenateSection 4 - Elections, MeetingsSection 5 - Membership, Rules, Journals, AdjournmentSection 6 - CompensationSection 7 - Revenue Bills, Legislative Process, Presidential VetoSection 8 - Powers of CongressSection 9 - Limits on CongressSection 10 - Powers Prohibited of StatesArticle 2 - The Executive BranchSection 1 - The PresidentSection 2 - Civilian Power Over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, AppointmentsSection 3 - State of the Union, Convening CongressSection 4 - DisqualificationArticle 3 - The Judicial BranchSection 1 - Judicial PowersSection 2 - Trial by Jury, Original Jurisdiction, Jury Trials
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
abolished slaveryand involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. In Congress, it was passed by the Senateon April 8, 1864, and by the Houseon January 31, 1865. The amendment was ratified by the required number of stateson December 6, 1865. On December 18, 1865, Secretary of StateWilliam H. Sewardproclaimed its adoption. It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendmentsadopted following the American Civil War. Since the American Revolution, states had divided into states that allowed or states that prohibited slavery. Slavery was implicitly permitted in the original Constitution through provisions such as Article I, Section 2, Clause 3, commonly known as the Three-Fifths Compromise, which detailed how each slave state's enslaved population would be factored into its total population countfor the purposes of apportioningseats in the United States House of Representativesand direct taxesamong the states. Though many slaves had been declared free by President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, their post-war status was uncertain. On April 8, 1864, the Senate passed an amendment to abolish slavery. After one unsuccessful vote and extensive legislative maneuvering by the Lincoln administration, the House followed suit on January 31, 1865. The measure was swiftly ratified by nearly all Northern states, along with a sufficient number of border states up to the death of Lincoln, but approval came with President Andrew Johnson, who encouraged the "reconstructed" Southern states of Alabama, North Carolina and Georgia to agree, which brought the count to 27 states, and caused it to be adopted before the end of 1865. Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some black Americans to involuntary labor, particularly in the South. In contrast to the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Thirteenth Amendment was rarely cited in later case law, but has been used to strike down peonageand some race-based discrimination as "badges and incidents of slavery." The Thirteenth Amendment applies to the actions of private citizens, while the Fourteenthand FifteenthAmendments apply only to state actors. The Thirteenth Amendment also enables Congress to pass laws against sex traffickingand other modern forms of slavery. Contents1 Text2 Slavery in the United States3 Proposal and ratification3.1 Crafting the amendment3.2 Passage by Congress3.3 Ratification by the states4 Effects4.1 Political and economic change in the South5 Congressional and executive enforcement5.1 Peonage law6 Penal labor exemption7 Judicial interpretation7.1 Black slaves and their descendants7.1.1 Jones and beyond7.2 Other cases of involuntary servitude8 Prior proposed Thirteenth Amendments9 See also10 References10.1 Citations10.2 Bibliography11 Further reading12 External linksTextSection 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. Slavery in the United StatesMain article: Slavery in the United StatesAbolitionist imagery focused on atrocities against slaves(1863 photo of Gordon)Slavery existed in all of the original thirteen British North American colonies. Prior to the Thirteenth Amendment, the United States Constitutiondid not expressly use the words slave or slavery but included several provisions about unfree persons. The Three-Fifths Compromise, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the Constitution, allocated Congressional representation based "on the whole Number of free Persons" and "three fifths of all other Persons". This clause was a compromise between Southerners who wished slaves to be counted as 'persons' for congressional representation and northerners rejecting these out of concern of too much power for the South, because representation in the new Congress would be based on population in contrast to the one-vote-for-one-state principle in the earlier Continental Congress.Under the Fugitive Slave Clause, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3, "No person held to Service or Labour in one State" would be freed by escaping to another. Article I, Section 9, Clause 1allowed Congress to pass legislation outlawing the "Importation of Persons", but not until 1808. However, for purposes of the Fifth Amendment—which states that, "No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"—slaves were understood as property.Although abolitionists used the Fifth Amendment to argue against slavery, it became part of the legal basis in Dred Scott v. Sandford(1857) for treating slaves as property. Stimulated by the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence, between 1777 and 1804 every Northern state provided for the immediate or gradual abolition of slavery. Most of the slaves involved were household servants. No Southern state did so, and the slave population of the South continued to grow, peaking at almost 4 million people in 1861. An abolitionist movementheaded by such figures as William Lloyd Garrisongrew in strength in the North, calling for the end of slavery nationwide and exacerbating tensions between North and South. The American Colonization Society, an alliance between abolitionists who felt the races should be kept separated and slaveholders who feared the presence of freed blacks would encourage slave rebellions, called for the emigration and colonization of both free blacks and slaves to Africa. Its views were endorsed by politicians such as Henry Clay, who feared that the main abolitionist movement would provoke a civil war.Proposals to eliminate slavery by constitutional amendment were introduced by Representative Arthur Livermorein 1818 and by John Quincy Adamsin 1839, but failed to gain significant traction. As the country continued to expand, the issue of slavery in its new territories became the dominant national issue. The Southern position was that slaves were property and therefore could be moved to the territories like all other forms of property.The 1820 Missouri Compromiseprovided for the admission of Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state, preserving the Senate's equality between the regions. In 1846, the Wilmot Provisowas introduced to a war appropriations bill to ban slavery in all territories acquired in the Mexican–American War; the Proviso repeatedly passed the House, but not the Senate.The Compromise of 1850temporarily defused the issue by admitting California as a free state, instituting a stronger Fugitive Slave Act, banning the slave trade in Washington, D.C., and allowing New Mexico and Utah self-determination on the slavery issue. Despite the compromise, tensions between North and South continued to rise over the subsequent decade, inflamed by, amongst other things, the publication of the 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin; fighting between pro-slavery and abolitionist forcesin Kansas, beginning in 1854; the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which struck down provisions of the Compromise of 1850; abolitionist John Brown's1859 attempt to start a slave revolt at Harpers Ferryand the 1860 election of slavery critic Abraham Lincolnto the presidency. The Southern states seceded from the Union in the months following Lincoln's election, forming the Confederate States of America, and beginning the American Civil War. Proposal and ratificationSee also: Presidency of Abraham LincolnCrafting the amendmentRepresentative James Mitchell Ashleyproposed an amendment abolishing slavery in 1863.Acting under presidential war powers, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamationon January 1, 1863, which proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion.However, it did not affect the status of slaves in the border statesthat had remained loyal to the Union.That December, Lincoln again used his war powers and issued a "Proclamation for Amnesty and Reconstruction", which offered Southern states a chance to peacefully rejoin the Union if they abolished slavery and collected loyalty oaths from 10% of their voting population.Southern states did not readily accept the deal, and the status of slavery remained uncertain. In the final years of the Civil War, Union lawmakers debated various proposals for Reconstruction.Some of these called for a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery nationally and permanently. On December 14, 1863, a bill proposing such an amendment was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashleyof Ohio.Representative James F. Wilsonof Iowa soon followed with a similar proposal. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Hendersonof Missouri submitted a joint resolutionfor a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbullof Illinois, became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. Radical Republicansled by Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumnerand Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Stevenssought a more expansive version of the amendment.On February 8, 1864, Sumner submitted a constitutional amendment stating: All persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as a slave; and the Congress shall have power to make all laws necessary and proper to carry this declaration into effect everywhere in the United States. Sumner tried to promote his own more expansive wording by circumventing the Trumbull-controlled Judiciary Committee, but failed.On February 10, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal based on drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson. The Committee's version used text from the Northwest Ordinanceof 1787, which stipulates, "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.":1786 Though using Henderson's proposed amendment as the basis for its new draft, the Judiciary Committee removed language that would have allowed a constitutional amendment to be adopted with only a majority vote in each House of Congress and ratification by two-thirds of the states (instead of two-thirds and three-fourths, respectively). Passage by CongressFurther information: 38th United States CongressThe Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6; two Democrats, Reverdy Johnsonof Maryland and James Nesmithof Oregon voted "aye." However, just over two months later on June 15, the House failed to do so, with 93 in favor and 65 against, thirteen votes short of the two-thirds vote needed for passage; the vote split largely along party lines, with Republicans supporting and Democrats opposing.In the 1864 presidential race, former Free Soil Partycandidate John C. Frémontthreatened a third-party run opposing Lincoln, this time on a platform endorsing an anti-slavery amendment. The Republican Party platform had, as yet, failed to include a similar plank, though Lincoln endorsed the amendment in a letter accepting his nomination.Fremont withdrew from the race on September 22, 1864 and endorsed Lincoln. With no Southern states represented, few members of Congress pushed moral and religious arguments in favor of slavery. Democrats who opposed the amendment generally made arguments based on federalismand states' rights.Some argued that the proposed change so violated the spirit of the Constitution that it would not be a valid "amendment" but would instead constitute "revolution."Representative White, among other opponents, warned that the amendment would lead to full citizenship for blacks. Republicans portrayed slavery as uncivilized and argued for abolition as a necessary step in national progress.Amendment supporters also argued that the slave system had negative effects on white people. These included the lower wages resulting from competition with forced labor, as well as repression of abolitionist whites in the South. Advocates said ending slavery would restore the First Amendmentand other constitutional rights violated by censorship and intimidation in slave states. White, Northern Republicans and some Democrats became excited about an abolition amendment, holding meetings and issuing resolutions.Many blacks though, particularly in the South, focused more on land ownership and education as the key to liberation.As slavery began to seem politically untenable, an array of Northern Democrats successively announced their support for the amendment, including Representative James Brooks,Senator Reverdy Johnson,and the powerful New York political machineknown as Tammany Hall. Celebration erupts after the amendment is passed by the House of Representatives.President Lincoln had had concerns that the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 might be reversed or found invalid by the judiciary after the war.He saw constitutional amendment as a more permanent solution.He had remained outwardly neutral on the amendment because he considered it politically too dangerous.Nonetheless, Lincoln's 1864 party platform resolved to abolish slavery by constitutional amendment.After winning reelection in the election of 1864, Lincoln made the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment his top legislative priority, beginning with his efforts in Congress during its "lame duck" session.Popular support for the amendment mounted and Lincoln urged Congress on in his December 6, 1864 State of the Union Address: "there is only a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will go to the States for their action. And as it is to so go, at all events, may we not agree that the sooner the better?" Lincoln instructed Secretary of State William H. Seward, Representative John B. Alleyand others to procure votes by any means necessary, and they promised government posts and campaign contributions to outgoing Democrats willing to switch sides.Seward had a large fund for direct bribes. Ashley, who reintroduced the measure into the House, also lobbied several Democrats to vote in favor of the measure.Representative Thaddeus Stevens later commented that "the greatest measure of the nineteenth century was passed by corruption aided and abetted by the purest man in America"; however, Lincoln's precise role in making deals for votes remains unknown. Republicans in Congress claimed a mandate for abolition, having gained in the elections for Senateand House.The 1864 Democratic vice-presidential nominee, Representative George H. Pendleton, led opposition to the measure.Republicans toned down their language of radical equality in order to broaden the amendment's coalition of supporters.In order to reassure critics worried that the amendment would tear apart the social fabric, some Republicans explicitly promised that the amendment would leave patriarchy intact. In mid-January 1865, Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfaxestimated the amendment to be five votes short of passage. Ashley postponed the vote.At this point, Lincoln intensified his push for the amendment, making direct emotional appeals to particular members of Congress.On January 31, 1865, the House called another vote on the amendment, with neither side being certain of the outcome. With 183 House members present, 122 would have to vote "aye" to secure passage of the resolution; however eight Democrats abstained, reducing the number to 117. Every Republican (84), Independent Republican (2) and Unconditional Unionist (16) supported the measure, as well as 14 Democrats, almost all of them lame ducks, and 3 Unionists. The amendment finally passed by a vote of 119 to 56,narrowly reaching the required two-thirds majority.The House exploded into celebration, with some members openly weeping.Black onlookers, who had only been allowed to attend Congressional sessions since the previous year, cheered from the galleries. While the Constitution does not provide the President any formal role in the amendment process, the joint resolution was sent to Lincoln for his signature.Under the usual signatures of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, President Lincoln wrote the word "Approved" and added his signature to the joint resolution on February 1, 1865.On February 7, Congress passed a resolution affirming that the Presidential signature was unnecessary.The Thirteenth Amendment is the only ratified amendment signed by a President, although James Buchananhad signed the Corwin Amendmentthat the 36th Congresshad adopted and sent to the states in March 1861. Ratification by the states Ratified amendment, 1865 Ratified amendment post-enactment, 1865–1870 Ratified amendment after first rejecting amendment, 1866–1995 Territories of the United Statesin 1865, not yet statesWhen the Thirteenth Amendment was submitted to the states on February 1, 1865, it was quickly taken up by several legislatures. By the end of the month, it had been ratified by eighteen states. Among them were the ex-Confederate states of Virginia and Louisiana, where ratifications were submitted by Reconstruction governments. These, along with subsequent ratifications from Arkansas and Tennessee raised the issues of how many seceded states had legally valid legislatures; and if there were fewer legislatures than states, if Article V required ratification by three-fourths of the states or three-fourths of the legally valid state legislatures.President Lincoln in his last speech, on April 11, 1865, called the question about whether the Southern states were in or out of the Union a "pernicious abstraction." Obviously, he declared, they were not "in their proper practical relation with the Union"; whence everyone's object should be to restore that relation.Lincoln was assassinatedthree days later. With Congress out of session, the new President, Andrew Johnson, began a period known as "Presidential Reconstruction", in which he personally oversaw the creation of new state governments throughout the South. He oversaw the convening of state political conventions populated by delegates whom he deemed to be loyal. Three leading issues came before the conventions: secession itself, the abolition of slavery, and the Confederate war debt. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina held conventions in 1865, while Texas' convention did not organize until March 1866.Johnson hoped to prevent deliberation over whether to re-admit the Southern states by accomplishing full ratification before Congress reconvened in December. He believed he could silence those who wished to deny the Southern states their place in the Union by pointing to how essential their assent had been to the successful ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. 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Jump to navigationJump to searchAmendment to the U. S. Constitution dealing with issues related to presidential succession and disability"Twenty-fifth Amendment" redirects here. For other uses, see Twenty-fifth Amendment (disambiguation).This article is part of a serieson theConstitution of the United States of AmericaPreamble and Articles of the ConstitutionPreamble
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