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Contradictions and the Legitimacy of Law in Early American History - Essay Example

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Contradictions and the Legitimacy of Law in Early American History

This indignity suffered by black slaves are shown here in an example of runaway slave advertisement:
April 23, 1738. RAN away from the Subscriber in Lancaster County, the 17th Instant, a dark Mullatto Fellow, named Will: He is a lusty, well-set Fellow, aged about 42 years; he is pretty much Pock-fretten, and has a Lump on the hind Part of One of his Legs, near his Heel. He wore a Man's Cloth Jacket, a Pair of brown Cotton Breeches, and an Ozenbrig Shirt, he carried with him, a white Fustian Jacket, a lopping Ax, and a fiddle: He is a Carpenter, Sawyer, Shoemaker, and Cooper. Whoever will apprehend the said Slave, or give Intelligence so that he may be had again, shall be sufficiently rewarded, besides what the Law allows, paid by James Ball.
Unfortunately for the escaped slave did not just enjoy the freedom from their oppression, the laws of the day also allowed for their capture. It had gotten to the point in the American slavery period that the slave owners convinced enough members of the senate and governing bodies to enact a new law that would have anyone who did not capture a slave when they had the opportunity to be charged with a fine of $1,000.
Written into the United States Constitution, the Thirteenth Amendment makes involuntary servitude illegal under any US jurisdiction whether at the hands of the US government or in the private sphere, except as punishment for a crime: "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." With this amendment written into the United States Constitution, Amendment XIII effectively abolished slavery and, with the exception of allowing punishments for crimes, prohibits involuntary servitude. The article states:
Section 1. 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.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (United States Constitution Amendment XIII, 1869)

President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 was a prelude to the Thirteenth Amendment being written into the Constitution as the Emancipation Proclamation had only at the time applied to the slaves that were being held in areas of the country were in rebellion against the north, or what was known as the United States of that time during the time of Proclamation. In the areas that were controlled by the Union, or the south, the slaves were not freed until this amendment took effect.
In the present day, the Supreme Court has ruled that the only situations where the Thirteenth Amendment cannot be applied as a violation is in the cases of mandatory military service and within methods used for involuntary servitude by convicted criminals in such instances of a "chain gang" unless they are ruled cruel and unusual punishment methods. The Thirteenth Amendment also prohibits specific performance as a judicial remedy for violations of contracts for personal services such as employment ...Show more

Summary

The fundamental contradictions in the laws that have formed the basis of the American legal community is at best fractured in its deliverance of equal amendment bills and rights. The contradiction of the slavery movement is in itself proof of how government was only effectual for those in power and did not place emphasis on every citizen who resided in the country.
Author : anyafahey
Contradictions and the Legitimacy of Law in Early American History essay example
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