13th Amendment to US Constitution is Ratified (1865)

The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution completed the process of abolishing slavery, which had begun with Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. By December 6, 1865, 27 of the 36 existing states had ratified the 13th Amendment, starting with the state of Illinois. Offenses against this amendment were being prosecuted as late as 1947. Which of the states that initially rejected the 13th Amendment finally ratified it in 1995, 130 years after it was adopted?

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished, and continues to prohibit, slavery, and, with limited exceptions (those convicted of a crime), prohibits involuntary servitude. Prior to its ratification, slavery remained legal only in Delaware and Kentucky; everywhere else the slaves had been freed by state action and the federal government's Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln (who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation) and others were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be seen as a temporary war measure, and so, besides freeing slaves in those two states where slavery was still legal, they supported the Amendment as a means to guarantee the permanent abolition of slavery. The amendment was originally co-authored and sponsored by Congressmen James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James Falconer Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri). It was followed by the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Fourteenth (intended to protect the civil rights of former slaves) and Fifteenth (which banned racial restrictions on voting).

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 the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Proposal and ratification

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was proposed to the legislatures of the several states by the Thirty-eighth United States Congress, on January 31, 1865. The amendment was declared, in a proclamation of Secretary of State William Henry Seward, dated December 18, 1865, to have been ratified by the legislatures of twenty-seven of the then thirty-six states. Although it was ratified by the necessary three-quarters of the states within a year of its proposal, its most recent ratification occurred in 1995 in Mississippi, which was the last of the thirty-six states in existence in 1865 to ratify it. The dates of ratification were:

Illinois (February 1, 1865)
Rhode Island (February 2, 1865)
Michigan (February 3, 1865)
Maryland (February 3, 1865)
New York (February 3, 1865)
Pennsylvania (February 3, 1865)
West Virginia (February 3, 1865)
Missouri (February 6, 1865)
Maine (February 7, 1865)
Kansas (February 7, 1865)
Massachusetts (February 7, 1865)
Virginia (February 9, 1865)
Ohio (February 10, 1865)
Indiana (February 13, 1865)
Nevada (February 16, 1865)
Louisiana (February 17, 1865)
Minnesota (February 23, 1865)
Wisconsin (February 24, 1865)
Vermont (March 8, 1865)
Tennessee (April 7, 1865)
Arkansas (April 14, 1865)
Connecticut (May 4, 1865)
New Hampshire (July 1, 1865)
South Carolina (November 13, 1865)
Alabama (December 2, 1865)
North Carolina (December 4, 1865)
Georgia (December 6, 1865)

Ratification was completed on December 6, 1865. The amendment was subsequently ratified by the following states:
1. Oregon (December 8, 1865)
2. California (December 19, 1865)
3. Florida (December 28, 1865, reaffirmed on June 9, 1869)
4. Iowa (January 15, 1866)
5. New Jersey (January 23, 1866, after having rejected it on March 16, 1865)
6. Texas (February 18, 1870)
7. Delaware (February 12, 1901, after having rejected it on February 8, 1865)
8. Kentucky (March 18, 1976, after having rejected it on February 24, 1865)
9. Mississippi (March 16, 1995, after having rejected it on December 5, 1865)


1790 - Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia

1865 – The Thirteenth Amendment is ratified, officially abolishing slavery.

1884 - Workers finish construction of the Washington Monument.

1907 - In Monongah, West Virginia, 363 men and boys die in a coal mine explosing, the worst mining disaster in U.S. history

1957 - The U.S.’s first attempt to place a satellitel in orbit fails when a Vanguard rocket explodes on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral.

2006- NASA announces that the Mars Global Surveyor has discovered indications of recent water flows on Mars.


The Washington Monument, built in memory of George Washington is the focal point of our nation’s capital and probably the world’s most famous memorial dedicated to a national hero. Perhaps the most impressive thing about the monument is the its simplicity. The majestic shaft of white marble, which, which towers 555 feet, 51/4 inches into the sky, has the shape of an ancient Egyptian obelisk – a four-sided pillar that gradually tapers as it rises, ending with a pyramid on top.

Construction on the monument, which is covered with Maryland marble, began in 1848. The original design by architect Robert Mills called for the obelisk’s base to be surrounded by a circular colonnade, which was never built. Delay after delay plagued the project, including the Civil War and a shortage of funds. On December 6, 1884, when workers finally set the capstone in place amid a howling wind, the Washington Monument was the tallest man-made structure on earth, a distinction it held until the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris. It is still the world’s tallest freestanding masonry structure, containing approximately 36,000 blocks of granite and marble.

Inside the monument, 897 steps lead to the top, bit the stairwell is closed to the public. Instead, an elevator whisks tourists to the top for magnificent views of Washington, D.C. for eight small windows. Those who stand at the monument’s base and gaze at the giant white pilar gleaming against a blue sky never forget the sight.

(1)From “The American Patriot’s Almanac” by William Bennett & John Cribb

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