The Other 13th Amendment(s)

I’ve been doing a bit of reading here and there, and have come across some references to three amendments to the U.S. Constitution which were bandied about, but never actually introduced in the Congress. Each of them, if they had been enacted, would have become the 13th Amendment.

I wonder if anyone can point me to a source that would give me the texts for these alternate universe “13th Amendment(s).”

First, a draft amendment around 1804 that President Jefferson was thinking about, to ratify the purchase of the Lousiana territory. At the time, there was a respectable body of thought that questioned whether the U.S. Constitution authorised the purchase. Jefferson apparently toyed with the idea of a constitutional amendment to settle the issue, but ultimately concluded he didn’t need it. I don’t think it ever got introduced into either House of Congress.

Second, an amendment dealing with the prohibition of titles of nobility, considered around 1815, that would have gone farther in some way than the provision in Article II, s. 10, which only prohibited states from granting titles of nobility. This one may have been introduced in Congress. (Note - this phantom amendment pops up from time to time on “patriot” websites, so it may just be a myth.)

Third, an amendment proposed as a last ditch effort to prevent the secession of the southern states, which would have expressly guaranteed slavery as a contitutional right. I don’t think this one was introduced in Congress. (Note - if such an amendment was seriously proposed, it would have clear implications for the “what caused the Civil War” debate. Please, if you want to natter on about that yet again, start a thread in GD. I’m just interested in the facts that answer my question.)

So, were all or some of these myths, or was there actually some consideration for them? And if they actually were considered, where could I find the texts of the proposals?

Check out [this site]( - 70k)
for your second point. I’m still looking for the others.

Try this site (especially at the bottom) for texts references that may have the wording for the Louisiana amendment.

And this site for the pro-slavery amendment.

Whew! Hope that helps, jti.

This bring up an interesting question. Is it constitutional to pass an amendment that expressly forbids specific other amendments? What about forbidding repealment of an amendment? (IE: a new amendment banning say guns, with the proviso that the amendment can never be repealed or an amendment banning abortion with a proviso that no amendment can ever allow it).

Again, as an outsider here, I’d say they came close to doing just that. Check out,
where they say Amendment 12 was modified by Amendment 20, and Amendment 14 by Amendment 26.

I’d say (WAG) that anything can be repealed with enough votes in Congress, Senate and among the state legislatures. Even the act of repeal itself. Scary stuff.

Both the noble-titles amendment and the slavery-guarantee amendment were officially proposed by both houses but not ratified by the states. There have been a total of six such proposed but unratified amendments:

  1. regulating the number of congressmen [1789]
  2. revoking US citizenship for those who accept foreign titles [circa 1791]
  3. prohibiting the banning of slavery [1861]
  4. giving congress the right to ban child labor [1926]
  5. giving equal rights to women [1971-72]
  6. granting congressional representation for the District of Columbia [1978]

See the earlier thread Seventeen amendments in the Bill of Rights

The subject of what can be amended in the Constitution turns up a lot in GD.

Article V, which spells out how the US Constitution can be amended only listed two specific matters that couldn’t be amended.

  1. No amendment regarding the abolition of the slave trade could be adopted prior to 1808.

  2. No state, unless it consents, can lose its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Thanks for the commments and links, everyone.

As far as I can tell, Thos. Jefferson thought about an amendment, but didn’t go so far as to introduce it - there may be a scribbled draft in his papers somewhere, but that’s it.

I hadn’t realised the slavery amendment got so far as it did - I thought it was just one of the ideas proposed at that final conference in Washington before the secession started. Whew! glad it fizzled!