Life After the Thirteenth Amendment

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12282

Do you own a pet? Does your mom or dad work for someone and get paid? Imagine owning a person and not paying them for work. Slavery was like that. It's illegal now, but some bad effects still remain.


Social Studies, United States

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Slavery is a serious chapter in American history that brings up important questions.

  • Have you ever wondered what life was like after slavery ended?
  • Was it a magical transformation where everything instantly became better for everyone?

Embark on a journey back in time and uncover the realities of post-slavery life. Explore the challenges, achievements, and ongoing struggles faced by individuals and communities as they navigated a new era of freedom.

Get ready to delve into history and gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the 13th Amendment!

One of the easiest ways to get rich throughout history was to enslave people.

Getting other people to do the work — for free — meant that you could keep all the money and didn’t have to do any of the work. To many people, slavery seemed like a normal part of life.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that most people began to see slavery as violent, brutal, and immoral.

Between 1525 and 1866, over ten million people were abducted from parts of Africa to become enslaved in the New World — North and South America. By the 1860s, there were over four million enslaved people in the United States.

The North and South states fought the Civil War over the right to continue slavery.

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which freed the enslaved people in the rebel states down South. That didn’t quite end slavery by law in America, though.

The end of slavery would come once and for all when Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.

  • What is an amendment?

The Constitution is the document that explains the basic rules of American government. It allows for new rules to be added as the needs of the times change.

Many amendments have been passed, including about elections, voting, and other issues. As of 2017, there are currently 27 amendments.

Read US Government: Thirteenth Amendment to learn more about how slavery finally ended in the United States. As you do, note the answers to these questions.

  • How many parts of the amendment are there?
  • What do they say?
  • What is the meaning of “involuntary servitude”?
  • Why was this amendment needed?

After reading the article, consider these questions.

  • What could an amendment do that the Emancipation Proclamation couldn’t do?
  • Why do you think some states did not agree with the Thirteenth Amendment?
  • What problems do you think might have happened after the Thirteenth Amendment passed?

Life changed in big ways after the Thirteenth Amendment. The biggest changes were in the South, where slavery had become an important part of society.

In the Got It? section, explore some of these changes.

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