The Thirteenth Amendment


Extended Thru July 24, 2016

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center will exhibit a rare, handwritten copy of the Thirteenth Amendment—the federal law, passed on January 31, 1865, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude except for punishment of a crime—beginning Friday, January 15, 2016.

When the Civil War began in 1861, President Lincoln sought to preserve the Union rather than end the system of enslavement. He knew that neither the Union nor the Border States would support abolition as a final outcome, however, by mid-1862, the President was convinced that abolition was the correct military and moral strategy. To solve this dilemma, in early 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was issued but it only freed enslaved persons in states that had already seceded from the Union. At the time, it was thought of as an effective war measure that would cripple the Confederacy, which had used enslaved laborers to support the Confederate Army. However, the Emancipation Proclamation also set the stage for conversations on the future of human bondage in the United States and would dramatically alter the lives of African Americans once the Civil War ended --- with the passing and ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. While the struggle for freedom continues to this day, these documents became a cornerstone in the fight for freedom and equality in our nation.

The Thirteenth Amendment is rare to see in person, which makes this exhibition very special.  The document will be exhibited on the third floor in the Skirball Gallery. The exhibit will be included in general admission, as well as the rest of the exhibits in the building.  The Thirteenth Amendment is on loan from David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group.

Sponsored by Procter & Gamble