Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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The Thirteenth Amendment

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  • Tredegar Iron Works, Records, 1845–1865, Accession 25744, Business Records Collection, Series 7, Anderson Family Bills of Sale for Slaves, 1842–1865, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Bill of Sale
  • Benjamin Henry Latrobe, An Essay on Landscape, 1798–1799, Accession 25060, Personal Papers Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Slaves Steering a Bateau
  • Broadside 1812 .T3 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    An Advertisement for Slaves
  • Robert Harvey slave cabin [graphic] / Wm. C. Sponaugle. Photograph accompanies Virginia Historical Inventory survey report: VHIR/23/0393. Virginia WPA Historical Inventory Project, Library of Virginia, Richmond Virginia., LVA
    Slave Cabin, ca. 1830
  • Joseph D. Lee, Note, 13 August 1838. Accession 42684. Personal Papers Collection. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Permission for Amy to Attend Church
  • Tredegar Iron Works (Richmond, Virginia), Records, 1847–1907, Accession 42362, Business Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Tredegar Strike
  • Doe, Charles, Letter, 22 February 1850, Accession 38743, Personal Papers Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Letter about Danville Slaves
  • Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Alexandria Slave Pen
  • Edwin Hergesheimer. Map of Virginia Showing the Distribution of its Slave Population from the Census of 1860. Washington, [D.C.: Henry S. Graham], June 13th, 1861. Map Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Virginia Slave Population Map, 1860
  • Undated petition of Phillip Gowen to Governor Sir William Berkeley, ca. 1675, Colonial Papers, Folder 19, No. 2, Record Group 1, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Phillip Phillip Gowen Petition
  • Manumission of Francis Drake, dated 23 May 1791, Norfolk City Deed Book 1, 1784–1791, Local Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Deed of Manumission
  • Virginia, Governor (1799–1802: Monroe) Executive Papers of Governor James Monroe, 1799–1802, Accession 40936, Letters Received, Record Group 3, State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Gabriel's Conspiracy Testimony
  • Virginia. Governor (1830–1834: Floyd). Executive papers of Governor John Floyd, 1830-1834 (bulk 1830–1833). Letters Received. Accession 42665. State Government Records Collection, Record Group 3, Library of Virginia., LVA
    Proclamation Concerning Nat Turner
  • Genealogical chart and Petition, Lynchburg City (Va.) Chancery Causes, 1807–1945. Charles Evans and others vs. Lewis B. Allen. 1821-033 Local Government Records Collection, City of Lynchburg Court Records. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Freedom Suit Claiming Indian Descent
  • Engraving of the box in which Henry Box Brown escaped from slavery in Richmond, Va. Song, sung by Mr. Brown on being removed from the box. Boston: Laing's Steam Press. [185-?]. Printed Ephemera Collection. Library of Congress. Washington, D.C., LOC
    Song about Henry Box Brown
  • Letter from former slave in Liberia. Rockbridge Co., Chancery Causes, 1781–1958, Exr. of Hugh Adams vs. Legts. of Hugh Adams, 1860-065. Local Government Records Collection, Rockbridge County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Letter from Liberia
  • The (Fort) Monroe Doctrine. American Cartoon Print Filing Series. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress Washington D.C., LOC
    The (Fort) Monroe Doctrine
  • Civil War photographs, 1861–1865/ compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1977. No. 0117., LOC
    Fording the Rappahannock
  • William Breedlove, Pardon Papers, 19 December, 1863, John Letcher Executive Papers, Record Group 3, Accession 36787. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    William Breedlove Petition
  • Photograph copy of President Abraham Lincoln's draft of the final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863. Original destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.
The Robert Todd Lincoln Family Papers, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, (2000–02)., LOC
    Emancipation Proclamation
  • Emancipation / Th. Nast ; King & Baird, printers, 607 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. [Philadelphia]: Published by S. Bott, no. 43 South Third Street, Philadelphia, Penna., c1865., LOC
    Emancipation, Lithograph
  • Watch Meeting, Dec. 31, 1862—Waiting for the hour, 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount: albumen, Created by Heard & Moseley, Boston. c1863. Prints and Photographs Division. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Waiting for the Hour
  • Virginia Constitutional Convention (1864), Journal, 1864 February 13–April 11. Accession 40655. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Convention Resolved to Abolish Slavery
  • Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting 13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress). The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837–1897. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., LOC
    Thirteenth Amendment
  • Augusta County (Va.) Register of Colored Persons of Augusta County, State of Virginia, cohabitating together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866. Local Government Records Collection, Augusta County Court Records. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Cohabitation Record
  • Broadside 189- .C7 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation
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The Thirteenth Amendment

The first time that slavery is referred to explicitly in the United States Constitution is in the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished the practice. While the Thirteenth Amendment ended slavery throughout the nation, it did not provide for the rights of the newly-freed African Americans. The first amendment to the Constitution enacted in more than sixty years, it opened the door for the Fourteenth and Fifteen amendments in 1868 and 1870 to define for African Americans the rights of citizenship and equality in voting. These three amendments, sometimes known as the Reconstruction amendments, made great steps toward providing for all Americans the promises for liberty and equality made by the Founders.

A Number of Valuable Slaves: Life as an Enslaved People

Although many of the laws restricting African Virginians were passed in the 1660s, slavery did not become codified in Virginia law until 1705. Slaves toiled on small farms, large plantations, inside homes, and in industrial settings. In 1860, Virginia had the nation's highest population of enslaved African Americans, nearly 500,000.

Death or Liberty: Avenues to Freedom

From the beginning of the Virginia colony's history some African Virginians were not held as slaves. Virginia's free blacks were the continual subject of white's fears and suspicions in the nineteenth century. Especially after Nat Turner's Rebellion in 1831, these fears were manifested in severe restrictions for free blacks.

Forever Free: Life as a Liberated People

During the Civil War enslaved African Americans sought opportunities to gain their freedom wherever they could. The Emancipation Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863. While it did not end slavery throughout the Union, the proclamation transformed the entire purpose of the Civil War. Slavery was abolished throughout the United States with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.

For Educators

"Antebellum Freedom"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.4, USI.5, CE.1, VUS. VUS.2, VUS.6
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d (Grades 7-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (232 KB) Word (172 KB)

"Death or Liberty"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8, USI.9, CE.1, VUS.1 (h), VUS.6
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d (Grades 5-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (188 KB) Word (173 KB)

"Life as an Enslaved People"

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.9, CE.1 (a), VUS.1 (h), VUS.6 (a)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2D

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (150 KB) Word (173 KB)

"Life as a Liberated People"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.8, CE.1, VUS.1 (h), VUS.7
National History Standards: Era 5 - 3b (Grades 9-12)

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (98 KB) Word (172 KB)

"Emancipation and the Thirteenth Amendment"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1, VS.4 (a), VUS.3, VUS.6 (e)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (1 MB) Word (153 KB) Power Point (6 MB)

"An Overview of American Slavery"

Virginia Standards of Learning: VS.1, VS.4 (a), VS.7 (a), VUS.3, VUS.6 (e)
National History Standards: Era 4 - 2d

Download the lesson plan: Pdf (48 KB) Word (149 KB) Power Point (40 MB)

People Featured in This Unit:

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  • William Breedlove (ca. 1820–1871)
  • Henry Box Brown (1815 or 1816–after 1878)
  • Gabriel (1776–1800)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)
  • Joseph Jenkins Roberts (1809–1876)
  • Nat Turner (1800–1831)
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