The Bill of Rights: The Thirteenth Amendment

The means to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude.



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The Bill of Rights has guaranteed our freedoms and rights for over 200 years. In this regular series, Dean Leonard Baynes with the University of Houston Law Center looks at how they relate to society today.

“The 13th Amendment provided a constitutional means to abolish slavery and involuntary servitude. The amendment was signed into law in 1865, after the Civil War.”

“Although the amendment abolished slavery, many African Americans, after the civil war, remained subject to other forms of involuntary servitude through state legislation, vigilante violence, and selective enforcement of statutes.”

“This amendment is rarely cited in case law, but the term ‘involuntary servitude’ has been found not to apply to the military draft, mandatory community service, or taxation.”

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