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February 19, 2015

The March to the Ratification of the 13th Amendment

The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery in America, but its passage was no easy feat. The Senate passed it on April 8th, 1864, but the House of Representatives failed to meet the required two-thirds majority two months on June 15th. It wasn’t until January 31st of 1865, after much pressure by President Lincoln, that the House passed the amendment.

On February 1st Lincoln submitted the amendment to the states for ratification. On the same day Illinois became the first state to ratify it. Seventeen other states followed suit in the month of February, including Rhode Island, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Missouri, Maine, Kansas, Massachusetts, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Nevada, Louisiana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Thirteenth Amendment was officially adopted on December 6th, 1865 after three-fourths of the states ratified it.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Thirteenth Amendment’s ratification. But even though all of the states eventually ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, slavery still exists in the United States and around the world. The major difference is that the government now has the power and the responsibility to eradicate it permanently.

Slavery is still big business, bringing in an estimated $150 billion a year for exploiters. Its sophisticated networks may have gone underground, but they often operate in plain sight. Human Rights First is teaming up with businesses, nonprofits, and the government to disrupt the business of modern slavery. You can learn more about our campaign here.