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Slavery in America

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Author Topic: Slavery in America  (Read 298 times)
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« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2007, 11:49:50 pm »

Article XIII

Proposed by Congress February 1, 1865, proclaimed adopted December 18, 1865.168

See Also Utah Supreme Court Opinion, Dyett vs Turner, a March 22, 1968 opinion of the Utah Supreme Court. It is the official view of the Court on the flawed nature of the so-called Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.

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.

168 The language of this Amendment is older than the Constitution itself. On July 13, 1787, the Congress under the Articles of Confederation passed the ordinance creating the Northwest Territory (Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin), which provided: "There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." But a proviso required the return from the territory of fugitive slaves.

When, on January 13, 1865, a two-thirds vote was taken in the House of Representatives for proposing the Thirteenth Amendment "in honor of the immortal and sublime event" the House adjourned.

Congress had previously abolished slavery in the District of Columbia and in the Territories, had repealed the Fugitive Slave Law, and had given freedom to the Negroes who had served in the Union armies.

The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves only in the seceded States, excepting some parishes (counties) in Louisiana, a few counties in Virginia, and the whole of Tennessee. Besides, the validity of the proclamation under the war power of the President was questioned. To remove the legal doubt and to liberate slaves everywhere the Amendment was adopted.

Of the Thirteenth Amendment a Federal court said:
"It trenches directly upon the power of the States and of the people of the States, It is the first and only instance of a change of this character in the organic law. It destroyed the most important relation between capital and labor in all the States where slavery existed. It affected deeply the fortunes of a large portion of their people. It struck out of existence millions of property. The measure was the consequence of a strife of opinions, and a conflict of interests, real or imaginary, as old as the Constitution itself. These elements of discord grew in intensity. Their violence was increased by the throes and convulsions of a civil war. The impetuous vortex finally swallowed up the evil, and with it forever the power to restore it."c110

A law of a State under which one fined for a misdemeanor confessed judgment and agreed to work out the fine for the surety who paid it for him was held by the Supreme Court (1914) to be unconstitutional as creating "involuntary servitude" in violation of this Amendment.c110

A person who hired another under a contract by which the hirer had the right to imprison the worker or keep him under guard until the contract should he performed was held (1903) by a Federal court to violate the Peonage Act of Congress (1867) passed under this Amendment. And so it was held (1907) of a State law making it a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for one to agree to perform service and then, after receiving a part of the consideration in advance, refuse to perform.c110

Thus it is seen from very late cases that this provision is still vital and active. But in many cases it has been held that city ordinances requiring persons committed to the city prison to work out their fines in the streets or elsewhere do not violate this Amendment. c110


Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 170

170 Congress passed under this constitutional authority the Civil Rights Act of March 1, 1875, another act prohibiting peonage, and some other statutes. The first and second sections of the Civil Rights Act of Congress were held (1888) by the Supreme Court in contravention of this Amendment, which is a regulation of the States with regard to slavery, and which does not authorize Congress to regulate the conduct of individuals who prevent Negroes from having the full and equal enjoyment of hotels, theatres, and other public places. Legislation of this kind comes within the police power of the State. In many of the States there has been legislation requiring the providing of separate but equal accommodations for white persons and Negroes. Such regulations have been held valid as essential to public order. c18

The Supreme Court has said that while the object of this Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, "in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either." The Court said that laws permitting and even requiring separation did not imply the inferiority of either race to the other, and such laws had been generally, if not universally, recognized as within the competency of State legislatures in the exercise of their police powers.
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