What is the 13th amendment?
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery, plus (with limited exceptions, such as those convicted of a crime) prohibits involuntary servitude. Prior to its ratification, slavery remained legal only in Delaware and Kentucky; everywhere else in the USA slaves had been freed by state action and the federal government's Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln (who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation) and others were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be seen as a temporary war measure, and so, besides freeing slaves in those two states where slavery was still legal, they supported the Amendment as a means to guarantee the permanent abolition of slavery. The amendment was originally co-authored and sponsored by Congressmen James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James Falconer Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri). It was followed by the other Reconstruction Amendments, the Fourteenth (intended to protect the civil rights of former slaves) and Fifteenth (which banned racial restrictions on voting).
The Thirteenth Amendment makes slavery unconstitutional and thus illegal and gives Congress the power to enforce this mandate. It reads in part,"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."