Monday, January 21, 2013

The 13th Amendment and the Ironies of History

Image from the National Archives

On the cusp of a doubly momentous day – the second inauguration of the nation's first African American president falls on the Martin Luther King Jr., holiday  – our virtual observance should include studying a document partially responsible for these events. That document is, of course, the 13th amendment to the Constitution.

It's an eighth-grade lesson you've probably forgotten: the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution freed the slaves. Did you recite the fact in a monotone or fill the words on a blank during a multiple choice test?

This meticulously written page was a destination in a journey of a thousand steps. Many of them  were taken in Philadelphia by women like the Grimke sisters and members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.

The amendment emancipated slaves, but did not make them citizens. That occurred with passage of the 14th amendment. The 15th amendment gave the vote to African American males

What did society members do when the 13th amendment passed? Interestingly, they kept up the fight. According to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania:
   "Following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 and passage of the 13th Amendment in 1865, most abolition societies disbanded or remade themselves into freedman’s aid societies. ... But ultimately the group’s members decided that their work as abolitionists was not finished. Echoing Robert Purvis, Lucretia Mott felt that the fraught and violent period of Reconstruction proved particularly dangerous for the free black man. She charged that the PFASS should “sound the alarm” whenever freedmen’s rights were threatened and work to expand those rights. By December 1866, the PFASS committed to holding a festival on Market Street to raise awareness and funds for the cause of black male suffrage."

The irony was clear, even to the society's members. Until the passage of the 13th amendment, the organization was fighting to extend equality: so that Blacks, like Whites, could be free. In 1866, though, they fought to give African American men a right they didn't have themselves – the right to vote. Even more ironically, they were successful. When the 15th amendment passed, all men were able to cast a ballot.

 By the time women won that right in 1920, Jim Crow had effectively disenfranchised most African Americans, regardless of their gender.

This blog explores issues raised by "If She Stood," a play by Ain Gordon and Nadine Patterson for the Place Philadelphia project. Please subscribe to receive posts in your email.

"If She Stood" will run for six performances:
  • Friday, April 26, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 3 p.m.
  • Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, May, 2013 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday May 5, 2013 at 3 p.m.

Tickets are on sale now - BUY HERE.


  1. فرسان النيل هى الاولى فى نقل العفش بالدمام هي شركة نقل عفش بالخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والدمام وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والدمام وشركة نقل عفش بالاحساء وشركة نقل عفش بقيق وراس التنورة
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل
    شركة تنظيف بالجبيل


  2. شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام وشركة نظافة بالدمام مؤسسة العطاء لخدمات مكافحة الحشرات ورش مبيدات بالدمام ونقل عفش بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والقطيف وتعتبر الاولى فى مجال مكافحة الحشرات بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر,شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل,شركة نقل عفش بالدمام,شركة نظافة بالدمام,شركة نظافة بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالقطيف
    شركة نظافة بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام


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