Tag Archives: Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution

I AM a MAN … Striking Memphis sanitation workers in 1968 February – April 1968

I Am A Man Ernest C. Withers 22×28″ offset poster ~ Gallery

The night before his assassination on April 16, 1968, Martin Luther King told a group of striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee: “We’ve got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. Nothing would be more tragic than to stop at this point in Memphis. We’ve got to see it through” (King, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” 217). King believed the struggle in Memphis exposed the need for economic equality and social justice that he hoped his Poor People’s Campaign would highlight nationally.

I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike, Memphis, Tennessee

AFSCME Local 1733 sanitation workers strike in Memphis with National Guard members looking on, 1968. (Date: 1968)

… rights movement are those from the Spring of 1968 as Black sanitation workers went on strike in Memphis, Tennessee holding signs that read “I am a Man …

Civil Rights …  god and nature NOT the government?


Black History~ Beyond The Emancipation Proclamation — The 13th Amendment a journey in American History …from Lonnie Bunch,musem director,historian,author,lecturer

a repost from 2010  
National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page From Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

13th Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States

13th Amendment to US Constitution
Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting

13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress)
The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837-1897.
Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a 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.

William Seward
William Seward
(19th century photograph)

On December 18, 1865, 145 years ago, Secretary of State William Seward announced to the world that the United States had constitutionally abolished slavery — the 13th Amendment had been ratified.

The ratification of the 13th Amendment, the first of the Reconstruction Amendments, was truly the beginning of the end of one our nation’s ugliest and saddest eras. Historically, however, it has always been overshadowed by President Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.”

While Lincoln’s initial pronouncement to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862, formally tied slavery to the Civil War, he repeatedly stated that preserving the Union was his primary objective — not ending slavery.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America
Abraham Lincoln,
16th President of the
United States of America.
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs
online catalog

In essence, Lincoln’s proclamation — officially signed and issued on January 1, 1863 — freed only slaves in Confederate states where he and the Union Army could not force the issue, but allowed slavery to continue in states where the Union could impose its will.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a work of political irony. Lincoln understood slavery was wrong, but did not want to anger the border states that had remained supportive of the Union.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation served as a catalyst for abolitionists in Congress to start working in earnest to end slavery in every state.

It began on December 14, 1863, when House Republican James Ashley of Ohio introduced an amendment to ban slavery throughout the United States. Later that month, James Wilson of Iowa introduced another amendment calling for an end to slavery.

Less than a month later, on January 11, 1864, Missouri Senator John Henderson, a member of the War Democrats — Democrats who supported the Civil War and opposed the Copperheads and Peace Democrats — submitted a joint resolution also wanting an amendment to end slavery.

Now, as civil war ravaged the nation, the legislative battle on Capitol Hill to end the injustice of slavery and treat African Americans as equal citizens was launched on two fronts — the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

On February 10, 1864, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed and brought the 13th Amendment to the full Senate. While in the House, one week after the Senate was moving ahead, Representatives took their first vote on the measure. The House vote well short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass, and it was clear the anti-slavery supporters in the House were in for a long struggle.

On the other hand, the Senate moved quickly. Senators wasted little time following the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation for passage. On April 8, 1864, the amendment was overwhelmingly passed, 38-6, eight votes more than constitutionally required.

Four months after the first House vote, in June, 1864, the House tried for a second time to pass the amendment. The vote was closer, but again the abolitionists failed to get the two-thirds majority they needed for passage.

Nicolay telegram announcing passage of 13th Amendment
John G. Nicolay to Abraham Lincoln,
Tuesday, January 31, 1865
(Telegram reporting passage of 13th Amendment
by Congress). The Abraham Lincoln Papers
at the Library of Congress. Series 1.
General Correspondence. 1833-1916.

The year drew to a close with Lincoln’s reelection. Yet the House had failed to produce a bill abolishing slavery. Lincoln’s patience with the House was reaching its end. At the same time, abolitionists declared his reelection as a mandate from the people to end slavery. More pressure was brought to bear on the hold-outs in the House to pass the bill.

At last, on January 31, 1865, the House passed the 13th Amendment. Though not needed, as a symbolic gesture of approval, President Lincoln signed the document and then sent it to the states for ratification.

Initially, ratification seemed a given. By the end of March, 19 states had voted for the amendment. Then the process bogged down, and by April 14, 1865, the date President Lincoln was assassinated, only 21 states were on board.

Suddenly, Vice President Andrew Johnson, himself a War Democrat from Tennessee, was in the White House. Johnson was staunchly pro-Union, but he was less passionate about ending slavery. At this point the question was how much support would he provide toward speeding the end of slavery? Abolitionists were relieved when Johnson used his power as the Chief Executive to force Southern states to ratify the amendment as part of his Reconstruction policy.

On December 6, 1865, nearly twelve months after President Lincoln had ceremoniously signed the document, Georgia became the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment. The three-quarters of the states needed to make the amendment law had finally been reached, and shortly afterward Seward made his historic announcement.

Sadly, life for Black Americans did not meet the promise of freedom. Southern states adopted “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow laws” — rules and restrictions that by-passed constitutional requirements — and continued to treat African Americans as second class citizens.

The tumult and grassroots uprising that eventually spawned such famous legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a subject all its own. Today, however, let us remember the tremendous stride that America took 145 years ago with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Together with the 14th Amendment that afforded African Americans citizenship, due process, and equal rights under the law and the 15th Amendment that gave African Americans the right to vote, a constitutional backbone was provided for what would become one of America’s greatest revolutions — the Civil Rights Movement.

Lonnie Bunch, Director All the best,
Lonnie Bunch

In times of loss …

TumblrDoves-doves-31209090-2560-2069“You will lose someone…, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss…. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up…. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.” – Anne Lamott

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Starbucks, Whole Foods and carbon pollution


10% of all carbon pollution comes from tropical deforestation, largely driven by palm oil production. We can stop it by pressuring corporations to use palm oil that doesn’t burn up forests—but only with your help.

Give now to fight global warming and protect tropical forests.


From French fries to face wash, everyday products are filled with palm oil, a lot of it produced by destroying tropical forests.

UCS members have helped convince some of the world’s largest users of palm oil—corporations you’d recognize in an instant—to buy from sources that don’t rely on destroying tropical forests.

But some companies are lagging behind—even a few that may surprise you: companies like Starbucks and Whole Foods. Based on our research, they’re not doing as well as McDonald’s or Subway.

We’ve made too much progress on deforestation to stop now. Will you help us turn up the heat on more corporations, and support the next phase of our campaign?

Make a tax-deductible gift to the Union of Concerned Scientists today.

Companies that make a show of corporate responsibility should be leading on palm oil, not lagging behind. Yet Starbucks has stopped at half-measures—relying on a palm oil certification system that still allows for forest clearance rather than pledging to eliminate deforestation entirely and only promising to use deforestation-free palm oil in its company-owned stores.1 Whole Foods promised to switch to deforestation-free palm oil three years ago, but hasn’t hit its targets.2

We’ve always known that science alone wouldn’t convince every major company to do the right thing on palm oil. That’s why, beyond meeting directly with executives to show them how deforestation-free palm oil won’t hurt their bottom lines, we’ve sent more than 750,000 letters to CEOs demanding action. So far, more than a dozen companies have answered our call—most recently, McDonald’s and Yum! Brands (owner of Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell).

If these fast food giants can commit to deforestation-free palm oil, there’s no excuse for companies like Starbucks and Whole Foods to hold out.

We have to turn up the pressure on companies dragging their feet on palm oil deforestation. Please, support our campaign with an urgent gift now.

You shouldn’t have to wonder if your Whole Foods groceries or Starbucks snack could be contributing to massive deforestation that’s decimating wildlife and releasing tons of global warming pollution.

Yet Whole Foods and Starbucks haven’t taken reasonable steps to make sure that their products don’t contribute to the wide-scale loss of tropical forests… to the plight of threatened wildlife like Sumatran orangutans and tigers… or to fires that have released hundreds of years’ worth of stored-up carbon into the air, burning for weeks or even months.3

Our efforts on palm oil are having a lasting impact on our planet. But it takes resources to organize hundreds of thousands of consumer activists and pressure global corporations to do the right thing. That’s why your gift today is so important.

Help fight global warming and environmental devastation by powering one of the most effective campaigns being run today.

I hope you’ll be a part of this truly historic effort. Thanks for your support.

Ken Kimmell Sincerely,
Ken Kimmell
Ken Kimmell
Union of Concerned Scientists




1.  http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/03/ucs-palm-oil-scoring-breakdown-2015.pdf, page 83
2.  Ibid
3.  http://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/global_warming/palm-oil-and-global-warming.pdf, page 2

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