January 31, 1865

History - On This Day

Following the decree of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, and after two more years of the bloody Civil War, on this day in 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The 13th Amendment is the first of the Reconstruction Amendments. It was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment, which enacted the Citizenship Clause, Due Process Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment, which prohibits each government in the United States from denying a citizen the right to vote based on race or color, in 1870.

Mississippi did not ratify the 13th Amendment until 1995. In 1994, a clerk in the Texas legislature had discovered that Mississippi hadn’t ratified it yet, so an…

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