G. The Abolishment of Slavery

On January 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. That document reads in part: “I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves  within said designated States ... are, and henceforward shall be free....” Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation, Exec. Proclamation No. 17 (Jan. 1, 1863), reprinted in 12 Stat. 1268 (1863).

Following the war, Congress acted to formally abolish slavery by proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865. Section 1 of that Amendment reads: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” U.S. Const. amend. XIII, § 1.

Also, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 9, 1868. Section 1 of that Amendment reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1. In effect, the Fourteenth Amendment overruled the Dred Scott decision, making freed slaves citizens of the United States.

Following the Civil War, the South was bankrupt, and an estimated four million African–Americans assumed the responsibilities of freedom as nationalism emerged. These lingering effects led to the Reconstruction era, a significant period in our Nation's history, which addressed the numerous issues raised by the abolition of slavery and the war fought to achieve that end.