After reviewing the 13th Amendment to The Constitution of The United States, I would have to say the answer is no!
We have to give Kanye West credit for being the one who recently brought this issue to light.
This is just the latest controversy for West, who has been a vocal supporter of President Trump.
After appearing on “Saturday Night Live” last month, he gave a shout out to President Trump and decried real racism in America as “SNL” went off the air.
Kanye followed this up with a tweet which showed him wearing his “Make America Great Again” cap. In it he wrote:
“This represents good and America becoming whole again. We will no longer outsource to other countries. We build factories here in America and create jobs. We will provide jobs for all who are free from prisons as we abolish the 13th amendment. Message sent with love pic.twitter.com/a15WqI8zgu” — ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018
He later tweeted:
“The 13th Amendment is slavery in disguise meaning it never ended. We are the solution that heals.” — ye (@kanyewest) September 30, 2018
West later appeared on TMZ the following Monday to further clarify his statements. “Abolish was the wrong language,” he said. “I misspoke by saying abolish. Amend is the right language.”
“In 1865, the 13th Amendment stated that no man is destined to slavery or involuntary servitude unless convicted of a crime,” West added. “This translates to ‘in order to make a freed man a slave all you have to do is convict them of a crime.’”
TMZ host Harvey Levin tried to clarify where he felt West was going with this. “So in other words what you’re saying is they carve out prison for involuntary servitude and you can use prison as a pretext to bring involuntary servitude back. Is that what you’re saying?”
“Well it has,” Kanye responded. “There’s people getting paid 8 cents a week working for companies that are privately owned and a lot of them are first-time offenders. A lot of them are non-violent crimes.”
Ok, well, let’s see what The Constitution actually says.
Article XIII (Amendment 13 – Slavery and Involuntary Servitude)
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Ratified December 6, 1865)
I see what Kanye is talking about here. When we’re talking about the abolishment of slavery, why would there be a need for any caveat? Why did the authors feel it necessary to include the “except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted” part?
Keep in mind that this amendment was being drafted nearly a hundred years after the original Constitution was written and over 150 years ago from today.
Lyman Trumbull, a United States Senator from Illinois at the time, co-authored the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and President Lincoln did his best to encourage the adoption of the amendment.
On April 8, 1864, according to the Library of Congress, the Senate passed the 13th Amendment on a 38 to 6 vote.
But on June 15, 1864, it was defeated in the House on a 93 to 65 vote. With 23 members of Congress not voting, it failed to meet the two-thirds majority needed to pass a Constitutional amendment.
In a message to Congress on Dec. 6, 1864, Lincoln expressed his disappointment that the House had failed to pass the amendment:
“At the last session of Congress a proposed amendment of the Constitution, abolishing slavery throughout the United States, passed the Senate, but failed for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives,” Lincoln wrote. “Although the present is the same Congress, and nearly the same members, and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present session.”
In January 1865, the amendment was debated again in the House, and Lincoln pushed hard for passage.
On Jan. 31, 1865, the House finally passed the 13th Amendment on a 119 to 56 vote.
The next day, Lincoln submitted the proposed 13th Amendment to the states.
A change to the Constitution must be ratified by three-fourths of the states. Twenty-seven of the then 36 states voted in favor of the amendment during the following year. Delaware, New Jersey, Kentucky and Mississippi flat-out rejected the amendment, while Florida, Texas and Iowa held out voting in favor of the amendment as late as 1870.
The amendment was added to the Constitution on Dec. 18, 1865. President Lincoln never got to see this day, as he had been assassinated by John Wilkes Booth eight months earlier on April 14th.
I only walk through this short Constitutional history lesson because I think we need to be reminded, or made aware, of the fact that abolishing slavery did not have overwhelming congressional support by a long shot, at the time. And when the amendment did finally get past Congress, we still had four states that rejected its adoption, including two northern states: Delaware and New Jersey!
So, even though the “North” won The Civil War, the practice of slavery was not shunned by an overwhelming majority apparently. This may help to explain why that odd exception needed to be added to the amendment at the time.
Kanye brought up the 13th Amendment again during his meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office.
There, he said, “There are a lot of things affecting our mental health that makes us do crazy things that puts us back into that trapdoor called the 13th Amendment. I did say abolish with the hat on because why would you keep something around that is a trap door? You’ve got to remove the trapdoor out of the relationship, the 13th Amendment out of our relationship.”
“The trap door” being the exception clause of the 13th amendment, in Kanye’s eyes.
But, of course, we then have our collection of biased liberal eggheads and pundits who feel it is their duty to impune Kanye’s intelligence and his intent, regarding the 13th amendment.
Ava Duvernay, who directed the documentary “13th,” seemed to trivialize Kanye’s statements, while deriding him as being “a certain MAGA follower.”
Historian Arica L. Coleman reacted to Kanye’s remarks by saying, “This man does not have a clue. Kanye is an entertainer…, what he is saying is in the guise of history, in the guise of facts. These are alternative facts, which means no facts at all.”
Oh, I see, so Kanye’s an entertainer, and apparently he has no business commenting on politics or history.
Where has Ms. Coleman been? Apparently she doesn’t have a TV, or she would have seen the Hundreds of liberal “entertainers” who are perceived as experts by the clueless liberal masses.
Many liberals claim to be confused by Kanye’s words and/or question his intentions when he say he wants to abolish the 13th amendment or amend it.
I realize Kanye can be a little “abstract” or “expressionistic” at times, he is an artist after all, but I feel I have a pretty good understanding of what he was saying. And he makes a good point that’s worth contemplating.
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Thank you, MrEricksonRules.