Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

(1865)

About the Author

The Thirteenth Amendment had no single author. Some of its key congressional creators and supporters were James M. Ashley, James F. Wilson, Lyman Trumbull, and Charles Sumner.

James M. Ashley was born in Pennsylvania in 1824. The mostly self-educated young man moved west to Ohio in 1848, where he became the editor of a Democratic newspaper and a close political ally of the antislavery leader and future Supreme Court chief justice Salmon P. Chase. Ashley was first elected to Congress in 1858, representing the Republican Party. During the Civil War, he played a leading role in winning support for the emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia before helping push for the Thirteenth Amendment. He would also favor a punitive Reconstruction policy, including confiscating the property of supporters of the Confederacy and taking away their political rights, which sometimes put him at odds with President Lincoln, who favored a more moderate and generous policy...

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The Thirteenth Amendment (National Archives and Records Administration)

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