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Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Thirteenth Amendment

A slave named Peter, from Louisiana.
147 years, and one day ago, on December the 6th, 1865, The United States officially abolished slavery in all of it's states. It was the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the text says the following:

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 power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 

During the civil war in 1863, Lincoln and his government made a proclamation, that declared that the slaves from ten confederate states were free men. However, Lincoln was afraid that people thought it was temporary, and the proclamation did not free all slaves, or abolish slavery everywhere. They agreed to make the the Thirteenth Amendment, so that slavery would be totally abolished. 

Almost every state ratified the Amendment in 1865, but even though they did not have slavery, two states waited for quite some time until they officially abolished slavery. Kentucky signed in 1976, and Mississippi signed in 1995.

Whats interesting, is that in 1861, what could have been the Thirteenth Amendment, now called The Corwin Amendment was proposed, and even signed by President Buchanan. However, it was never adopted. When Lincoln became president the Amendment hadn't been ratified, and he quickly sent out the amendment without mentioning that it had been signed by former president Buchanan. In congress an act was proposed to withdraw the amendment, and when the war broke out few days later, the debate was put on the table, and in 1865 the new Thirteenth Amendment was accepted.

So whats so special about the Amendment from 1861? Well, it's the complete opposite of the one from 1865. While the one from 1865 abolished slavery, the one from 1861 said the following:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."

The Corwin Amendment basically makes it up to every state if they want to abolish slavery. Since the Amendment never passed, it's still possible for a state to bring it to the congress. The last time this was tried, was by Texas in 1963. 

The evilness of slavery

The US abolished slavery in 1865, The British did so in 1833(Except for areas controlled by The East India Company), Sweden ended it in 1847, and Denmark-Norway ended it in 1792.
Most western countries ended slavery in the late 1800s. However, for example France, kept having slaves in the colonies for a while, and Belgium wasn't exactly nice to the people in Kongo either. When it comes to countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, they abolished it in the mid 20s, and U.A.E ended it in 1963. The last country to end slavery was Mauritania in 1981.
Slavery is oppression of people, and we must remember that we still have problems today with forced labor and people working at minimum wages. According to the UN, 27 million people still live as slaves.

Some people think of slavery as something that happened a long time ago, that the "mind" of the people was different then. I don't think that's the case. I think that people though just like us, only that these days we choose people in a democratic election, and since normal people can vote, we elect sane people. But we must still remember that slavery has been brought back before. Sweden has abolished it twice, China twice and France three times. The people who's minds would accept slavery, are still out there, and if the wrong people gets enough votes, especially these days with the economic crisis in Europe, slavery and god knows what could be the consequence.

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