What Is a Summary of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution?

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The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution pertains to the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude. It was adopted on Dec. 6, 1865, as part of a suite of amendments passed in response to the Civil War, regarding civil rights and black suffrage.

The 13th Amendment contains two sections. In the first section, the amendment abolishes both slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime resulting from a conviction. The second section gives Congress the right to pass legislation to ensure that the provisions of the first section are properly enforced. After it was passed, the Fugitive Slave Clause and the Three-Fifths Compromise were nullified.

The crafting and passage of the amendment followed the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. Among the primary participants in the writing and passage of the amendment were Secretary of State William H. Seward, Representative Thaddeus Stevens and Senator Charles Sumner. The amendment first passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, but did not pass the house until Jan. 31, 1865. The amendment was adopted after it was ratified by 27 states, with the first ratification coming from Illinois on Feb. 1, 1865. Former Confederate states including Virginia, Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee also ratified the amendment in 1865.