Legality of Slavery in America

Emancipation Proclamation:

  • On September 22, 1862 President Lincoln issued the first of two executive orders declaring the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate USA that did not return to Union control by the end of the year. On January 1, 1863 he followed up with a second order which named specific states to which the first order applied.
  • Though it was widely criticized at the time as only freeing slaves which the Union did not have power over, it successfully committed the Union to ending slavery. At the time, slavery was still controversial in the North.

Thirteenth Amendment:

The Thirteenth Amendment officially abolished slavery, with limited exceptions regarding criminal punishment. Before it was ratified, slavery was still legal in Delaware, Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland and New Jersey. All other states had fallen under the jurisdiction of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Amendment, ratified December 6, 1865 states:

"Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of 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 the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Jim Crow laws:

Jim Crow laws were enforced between 1870s and 1965, specifically in Southern and border states. They claimed "separate but equal" though in reality "Colored" accommodations were consistently inferior to their "White" counterparts. These included but were not limited to separate schools, restrooms, transportation and restaurants.

Some examples are:

  • "It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and [vice versa]"
  • "Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. "
  • "Any person who shall rent any part of any...building to a Negro person or a Negro family when such building is occupancy by a white person or white family, or vice versa...shall be guilty of a misdemeanor..."

Civil Rights Act of 1964:

The well known act that outlawed segregation in public and in schools. This act overruled the Jim Crow laws.