A reservation is required for a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Visit the Plan a Visit page for information on how to obtain a reservation.

Breaking Barriers to Emancipation

Breaking Barriers to Emancipation

Neither slavery nor indentured servitude…shall exist within the United States

Amendment XIII, Constitution of the United States

As originally ratified, the U.S. Constitution preserved the institution of slavery. Congress became the arena for the struggles between those who wanted to protect the institution and those who wanted to abolish it. Congress’ power to affect slavery in the territories and the District of Columbia—but not the states—became the focal point of the battle, until slavery was abolished in 1865.