The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States [[Constitution]] is a significant landmark in American history. It represents the formal abolition of [[slavery]] in the United States, marking a pivotal turn in the nation's social, political, and economic life. The amendment was passed by [[Congress]] on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the required number of states on December 6, 1865. ## Text of the 13th Amendment "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." ## The end of slavery This amendment is unique because it fundamentally altered the institution of slavery that was woven into the fabric of the American society since the country's inception. The institution of slavery was an integral part of the Southern economy and had profound political implications, including as a major factor that led to the American [[Civil War]]. Section 1 of the 13th Amendment outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime. The phrase "except as a punishment for crime" has been a subject of controversy and debate, as it has been associated with the systemic racial [[discrimination]] seen in the criminal justice system, and the phenomenon of convict leasing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Section 2 of the amendment grants Congress the power to enforce the amendment through legislation. This provision has been used to pass laws that combat the vestiges and incidents of slavery. The most notable of these is the [[Civil Rights Act]] of 1866, which declared that everyone born in the United States was a U.S. citizen and had certain inalienable rights, including the right to make contracts, to sue, and to buy and sell property. The 13th Amendment is seen as the first of the three "Reconstruction Amendments" passed in the aftermath of the Civil War, with the 14th and 15th Amendments following, which respectively address citizenship and equal protection under the law, and the right to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude." Together, these amendments significantly expanded [[civil rights]] and liberties in the United States. See also: [[Jim Crow]], [[segregation]]