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Charles Sumner, photograph by Matthew Brady, ca. 1860–1874

Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts served four terms in the Senate, from 1851 until his death in 1874. His outspoken opposition to slavery nearly cost him his life when Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina assaulted him in the Senate chamber in 1856. After the Civil War, Sumner championed the civil rights of freedmen.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Charles Sumner, photograph by Matthew Brady, ca. 1860–1874

The Thirteenth Amendment

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Designed to weaken the Confederacy, it declared that all persons enslaved in a state, or part of a state, then in rebellion against the United States were and would be forever free. The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, passed by Congress and ratified by the states in 1865, abolished slavery nationwide.

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall hereafter exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution