13th Amendment Ended Slavery, NJ Last of Northern States to Abolish


By Daniel Winner | AC JosepH Media Correspondent

ATLANTIC CITY — Today [Dec. 6] marks the 158th anniversary of the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, the Amendment moved on to be passed by the House of Representatives on Jan. 31, 1865. Ratification occurred on Dec. 6 of that same year, officially abolishing slavery in the United States.

Section 1 of the Thirteenth Amendment reads:

“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.”

Nevertheless, some states were slow to ratify. At the time, 36 states comprised the United States. Only 27 of these states accepted the Amendment at the time of its introduction, which was the minimum requirement as any constitutional amendment may only be requested by three-fourths of the states before it can proceed to become part of federal law.

Three states rejected the Amendment until the 1900s. Delaware was the first of these to ratify on Feb. 12, 1901. Kentucky was second on March 18, 1976.

Mississippi took a whopping 130 years, with the state House finally approving a resolution on March 16, 1995. Still, the National Archives in College Park, Md., had not been informed, which is necessary for state ratification to go into effect. The State of Mississippi received confirmation on February 7, 2013.

New Jersey was also among three states — the other being Delaware and Kentucky — that did not formally abolish slavery with the end of the Civil War on Apr 9, 1865. New Jersey still maintained rules for a long-term apprenticeship, which obligated many to Black slaves to remain in servitude.

On Jan. 23, 1866, then-Republican Gov. Marcus Lawrence Ward approved and signed the Thirteenth Amendment for the State of New Jersey, which was his first official act in office. When the Thirteenth Amendment was finally passed into New Jersey law, the state’s remaining 16 slaves were freed.

This made New Jersey the last of the Northern States to abolish slavery.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel Winner has a double major in Religious Studies and Japanese from Penn State University and has traveled internationally to the Far East on several occasions. His insights on Buddhism and Asian culture give a unique view of historical and modern trends. He will be serving as a contributor for Front Runner New Jersey.

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