National Archives This is historical material “frozen in time”. The website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work.

On this day in 1865, the United States ratified the 13th Amendment to our Constitution, abolishing slavery and setting our Nation on a path that would ensure that the blessings of liberty endowed to us by our Creator were secured for all Americans.

America was founded on the conviction that “all men are created equal.”  However, it was not until nearly a century after these words were written that the law of the land reflected this fundamental truth for African Americans.  On that historic December day 154 years ago, Georgia became the 27th State to ratify the 13th Amendment, forever removing the shackles of slavery and untying the bonds of hate and oppression that had denied millions of African Americans their God-given rights of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Despite suffering the horrors of slavery and all that flowed from this inexcusable and cruel act against humanity, African Americans have been instrumental in building and bolstering our great Nation.  From enrichening our culture and enhancing our American identity to strengthening our economy and safeguarding our cherished freedoms, the remarkable courage and steadfast resolve of African Americans define the American spirit.

While tremendous progress has been made since the ratification of the 13th Amendment, much work remains to be done to end the scourge of racism that plagues our communities and country.  My Administration will continue to work diligently to unite our people and strengthen the bonds we share.  Together, we can build a society that fosters more meaningful relationships and a deeper respect for all Americans.

Today, as we commemorate one of the most monumental landmarks in our Nation’s history, we remember those who endured the torments of bondage and those who lost their lives to slavery.  We can—and we must—resolve to always fiercely safeguard our precious liberties and cherished freedoms so future generations may enjoy the promise of America.