Why does the text of the Abolition Amendment adhere so closely to that of the 13th Amendment?

13th Amendment - logo by Chris Censullo

Modern abolitionists often ask about the origin of the text of Section 1 of the Abolition Amendment, particularly the phrase “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude”.  This phrase is a word-for-word quote from the 13th Amendment.  Re-using this phrase verbatim has several benefits, such as:

  • INTENDED RESULT:  the actual, historical effect of the 13th Amendment is undeniable: it ended human slavery; re-using the operative text of the 13th Amendment sends a clear signal that the Abolition Amendment will do the same thing for other animals
  • CONNECTING TO OTHER SECTIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION:  the 14th Amendment (ratified 1868) already provides that former slave-holders will not be compensated for the alleged “loss” of their “property, and by adhering to the 13th Amemdment language, the Abolition Amendment makes clear the continued applicability of this portion of the 14th Amendment
  • TAPPING INTO EXISTING PRECEDENTS: legal precedents based on the 13th Amendment will be more easily applied to cases involving the Abolition Amendment if the language used is identical; in other words, by re-using this language, the modern abolition movement taps into the power of 100+ years of existing case law interpreting this language
  • RATIFICATION PROCESS:  the political process of getting a Constitutional amendment ratified is very difficult; by re-using language that is already in the Constitution, the modern abolition movement minimizes the number of arguments available to pro-violence, pro-exploitation advocates; in other words, there’s simply a lot less to argue about than there would be if new language were used

These reasons represent some of the many benefits of keeping the text of the Abolition Amendment close to the relevant portions of the text of the 13th Amendment.

13th Amendment - logo by Chris Censullo
13th Amendment – logo by Chris Censullo

What is Abolition Day?

13th Amendment - logo by Chris Censullo

American Abolition Day—or just “Abolition Day”, for short—is a national celebration to be observed annually on December 6. Abolition Day was created by the Humane Party for the two-fold purpose described below.  Years in the making, Abolition Day was first formally celebrated in 2015.

The purpose of Abolition Day is two-fold:

13th Amendment - logo by Chris Censullo
13th Amendment – logo by Chris Censullo

1. Honoring the Past. The first purpose of Abolition Day is to commemorate the success of the proto-abolitionist movement in the United States of America, which movement culminated in ratification of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on December 6, 1865. Ratification of the 13th Amendment, which ended human slavery in the U.S., represents the single most important moment in the history of civil rights in the U.S. since ratification of the Bill of Rights. The annual date of Abolition Day was chosen to coincide with the anniversary of this pivotal moment.

Abolition Amendment_profile

2. Brightening the Future. The second purpose of Abolition Day is to promote completion of the process of abolition so as to end slavery with respect to all other species within the jurisdiction of the United States. Specifically, Abolition Day serves to promote ratification of two additional abolitionist amendments.

The Humane Party published the first of these two additional abolitionist amendments, the American Primate Emancipation (“APE”) Amendment, on December 6, 2015. The APE Amendment, when ratified, will emancipate all other primates within the jurisdiction of the United States. The Humane Party is scheduled to publish the final text of the second additional abolitionist amendment, called simply the Abolition Amendment, on Abolition Day, 2016. The Abolition Amendment, when ratified, will emancipate all other animals within the jurisdiction of the United States.

 

Emancipation - King & Baird, engraver
Emancipation – King & Baird, engraver