CITES BY TOPIC:  slavery
Thirteenth Amendment:

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.

[Thirteenth Amendment]

1 Cor. 7:23:

"You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men." 

[1 Cor. 7:23, Bible, NKJV]

Romans 6:16:

"Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?" 

[Rom. 6:16, Bible, NKJV]

PDF U.S. Code Annotated (USCA), 13th Amendment:  Slavery in the Context of taxation (196 Kbytes)

Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207; 25 S.Ct. 429; 49 L.Ed. 726 (1905):

"It is not open to doubt that Congress may enforce the 13th Amendment by direct legislation, punishing the holding of a person in slavery or in involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime.  In the exercise of that power Congress has enacted these sections denouncing peonage, and punishing one who holds another in that condition of involuntary servitude.  This legislation is not limited to the territories or other parts of the strictly national domain, but is operative in the states and wherever the sovereignty of the United States extends.  We entertain no doubt of the validity of the legislation, or its applicability to the case of any person holding another in a state of peonage, and this whether there be a municipal ordinance or state law sanctioning such holding.  It operates directly on every citizen of the Republic, wherever his residence may be."

[Clyatt v. United States, 197 U.S. 207; 25 S.Ct. 429; 49 L.Ed. 726 (1905)]

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896):

“That is does not conflict with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, is too clear for argument.  Slavery implies involuntary servitude—a state of bondage; the ownership of mankind as a chattel, or at least the control of the labor and services of one man for the benefit of another, and the absence of a legal right to the disposal of his own person, property, and services.  This amendment was said in the Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wall, 36, to have been intended primarily to abolish slavery, as it had been previously known in this country, and that it equally forbade Mexican peonage or the Chinese coolie trade, when they amounted to slavery or involuntary servitude and that the use of the word ‘servitude’ was intended to prohibit the use of all forms of involuntary slavery, of whatever class or name.” 

[Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 542 (1896)]

Right To Labor Deposition Questions: From Tax Deposition Questions, Section 2

TITLE 42 > CHAPTER 21 > SUBCHAPTER I > Sec. 1994.

Sec. 1994. - Peonage abolished

The holding of any person to service or labor under the system known as peonage is abolished and forever prohibited in any Territory or State of the United States; and all acts, laws, resolutions, orders, regulations, or usages of any Territory or State, which have heretofore established, maintained, or enforced, or by virtue of which any attempt shall hereafter be made to establish, maintain, or enforce, directly or indirectly, the voluntary or involuntary service or labor of any persons as peons, in liquidation of any debt or obligation, or otherwise, are declared null and void

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 77 > Sec. 1581.

Sec. 1581. - Peonage; obstructing enforcement

(a) Whoever holds or returns any person to a condition of peonage, or arrests any person with the intent of placing him in or returning him to a condition of peonage, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

(b)  Whoever obstructs, or attempts to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this section, shall be liable to the penalties prescribed in subsection (a)

TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 77 > Sec. 1589.

Sec. 1589. - Forced labor

Whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person -

(1) by threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against, that person or another person;

(2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or

(3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both

13th Amendment:  Abolition of Slavery:  [Great IRS Hoax, section 3.10.9]

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.

[Thirteenth Amendment, Emphasis added]

Have you ever considered that being forced to pay income taxes to the state on the basis of wage income constitutes slavery?  It may not be physical slavery but it constitutes financial slavery.  Merriam Webster defines slavery as follows:

slave  1: a person held in servitude as the chattel of another: BONDMAN 2: one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.[1]

slavery 1:  DRUDGERY, TOIL 2: submission to a dominating influence 3 a: the state of a person who is a chattel of another b: the practice of slaveholding.[2]

It then defines “servitude” as follows:

ser·vi·tude Pronunciation: 's&r-v&-"tüd, -"tyüd
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin servitudo slavery, from servus slave
Date: 15th century
1 : a condition in which one lacks liberty especially to determine one's course of action or way of life
2 : a right by which something (as a piece of land) owned by one person is subject to a specified use or enjoyment by another

From the above definition, you can see that servitude, or slavery, encompasses not only surrendering control of one’s body and time to another, but it also involves the right of use and beneficial enjoyment of one’s property as well.  Servitude is a condition where we have been involuntarily deprived of liberty.  Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, on page 1388 defines slavery as follows:

slavery:  The condition of a slave; that civil relation in which one man has absolute power over the life, fortune, and liberty of another.  The 13th Amendment abolished slavery.

slave:  A person who is wholly subject to the will of another; one who has no freedom of action, but whose person and services are wholly under the control of another.  One who is under the power of a master, and who belongs to him; so that the master may sell and dispose of his person, of his industry, and of his labor, without his being able to do anything, have anything, or acquire anything, but what must belong to his master.  The 13th Amendment abolished slavery.

The condition of slavery is referred to in the U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 77 (sections 1581 through 1588) as “peonage”, which is defined as follows:

peonage 1 a: the use of laborers bound in servitude because of debt b: a system of convict labor by which convicts are leased to contractors 2: the condition of a peon.

peon  3 a:  a person held in compulsory servitude to a master for the working out of an indebtedness b: DRUDGE, MENIAL

Would anyone argue that we aren’t peons who are slaves to the Federal Reserve and who owe income taxes to pay off the debts of the U.S. government to the privately owned Federal Reserve?  Isn’t peonage against the law, but that’s what the U.S. Congress legalized when it nearly simultaneously passed the Federal Reserve Act and the Income Tax in 1913?  The two are linked together because if you are going to run up a big public debt, then peons are needed to pay it off.

Notice that the key to being a slave is the absence of property rights, and the most sacred kind of property is one’s labor, as confirmed in the supreme Court case of Butchers’ Union Co. v. Crescent City Co., 111 U.S. 746, 1883.  Thomas Jefferson, the author of our Declaration of Independence, confirmed the foundation of our political system is the ownership and complete control over one’s property when he said the following:

"The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen in his person and property and in their management." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816. ME 15:36

"Nothing is ours, which another may deprive us of." --Thomas Jefferson to Maria Cosway, 1786. ME 5:440

"He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in anything but force." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Bancroft, 1788. ME 19:41

The U.S. supreme Court agreed with the view that sovereignty of the Citizen over his property (including his labor and the wages resulting from his labor) is the foundation of all liberty:

“For the very idea that one man may be compelled to hold his life, or the means of living, or any material right essential to the enjoyment of life, at the mere will of another, seems to be intolerable in any country where freedom prevails, as being the essence of slavery itself." Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 US 356 (1885)

The government attempts to make it appear that the tax system is based on "voluntary compliance", but they never adequately define what "voluntary" means or why they put the word “compliance” after it to confuse things.  They also attempt to make it look voluntary by illegally coercing and threatening employees to complete a W-4 "Withholding Allowance" certificate, which in effect gives the government the permission from the employee to withhold income taxes from their pay.  However, there have been several cases where employees have refused to complete the W-4, and the employers have consulted the IRS, only to be told that they can't hire a person who won't complete and sign the W-4 (see section EEOC v. Information Systems Consulting, Inc., CA3-92-0169-T, United States Court Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division; mentioned in section 2.6.2).  The courts have ruled in the case of EEOC v. Information Systems Consulting, Inc., that it is considered illegal NOT to hire someone who refused to complete a W-4 form because it violates a person's civil rights!

Here is another way to look at it.  Income taxes as they are currently (illegally, I might add) being implemented by the IRS effectively assess taxes on employment wages on the basis of or in proportion to the hours worked.   For instance, if I am in the 28% tax bracket, then I am a slave to the IRS for 28% of the year.  Every year, the media refers to what they call "tax freedom day", which is the day during the year at which everyone in America has paid off all their taxes to the federal government and everything they take home from that point is considered to be theirs.  If income taxes are assessed on the basis of labor or as an equivalent percentage of labor, then in effect, for a portion of a person's work year that is in proportion to their income tax rate or percentage, the person being taxed in effect becomes a slave or involuntary servant of the government for the portion of the year corresponding to their tax percentage rate.  The only way they could pay any kind of taxes and not be a slave to the government is if the taxes are excises (indirect) based on sales of goods, because then people have the discretion or choice as to whether they want to buy something or not, without the threat of coercion from the government to mandatorily pay a tax.  Right now with the income taxes based on wages, all Congress has to do is make the income tax rate 100% and we all become INSTANT SLAVES of the government for the entire year, and people will have absolutely nothing they can do about it and we would all starve to death! And when you have no money, you can't afford to litigate to protect your rights either so you are likely to stay in that state indefinitely.  The condition of financial slavery is therefore self-perpetuating.

Another thing to consider is that the income taxes on individuals are frequently used, in effect, for social engineering purposes that compel people to do things they would not otherwise do in every conceivable area of life!  In this sense, people also become slaves using income taxes.  All that is needed for this type of coercion is some new tax credit or tax penalty for a particular type of financial, moral, or economic activity.  For instance, if congress wants to outlaw smoking, then all they have to do is make the price of continuing to smoke so high using a tax credit that no one will want to continue.  They could offer a 10% additional charge to income taxes for people who smoke, which makes the cost of continuing to smoke so exorbitant that everyone would be compelled to quit!  They could also do it, as Canada did, by an oppressively high type of income tax on smokers.  This leads us to the conclusion that with direct income taxes, there is no such thing as freedom or privacy and the government has ultimate control over every aspect of our lives and can regulate every aspect of our behavior through taxation.  This consideration is also behind the idea that it is unconstitutional for the government to either tax, penalize, or fine the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Refer to section 2.4: The Freedom Test, to see whether you are a slave who has been deceived or deluded into thinking he is free.  The slavery comes in many forms, and the main impetus behind continuing the financial slavery to the IRS that politicians will often talk about is paying off the national debt.  As long as people believe that the national debt is large and needs to continue to be paid off, then they will be less likely to question the encroachment of their due process and 5th and 14th Amendment protections by the IRS in the process of illegally implementing the income tax laws. Citizens will be more likely to agree with the need to pay taxes they wouldn't otherwise owe.  Never mind the fact that no matter how much money you give the politicians, they will always find excuses to deficit spend and will never pay off the debt!  As long as the politicians are spending "other people's money" derived through income taxes with no constitutional or statutory obligation to balance the budget, they will continue to destroy the credit if the United States and force the national debt and public spending ever higher.  This will ensure that the financial slavery and tax rates becomes more and more oppressive every year using the excuse that the budget isn't balanced.  The more we borrow and the greater the interest on the national debt we have, the harder it will be to pay off current obligations without increasing taxes continually.  The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to end the fiscal irresponsibility and lack of discipline or accountability of the fat-cat lawyers in Washington, D.C.  Refer to section 2.8.6 Debt, for information about how government oppression is perpetuated and expanded in the name of public debt.

Based on the preceding discussion as a background, it is very easy to understand why the prudent founding fathers included a prohibition against direct taxes of the population by the U.S. Government in Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of the constitution.  It would appear they wanted to prevent involuntary financial slavery of individuals to the federal government, especially based on direct taxes on wages derived from employment.  See section 3.10.1:  Constitutional Government, for further discussion of this subject.

Don't forget:




[1] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1983, Merriam-Webster, p. 1077.

[2] Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, 1983, Merriam-Webster, p. 1077.

Hodges v. U.S., 203 U.S. 1, 27 S.Ct. 6 (U.S. 1906)

These views were explicitly referred to and reaffirmed in the recent case of Clyatt v. United States, 197 U. S. 207, 49 L. ed. 726, 25 Sup. Ct. Rep. 429. That was an indictment against a single individual for having unlawfully and knowingly returned, forcibly and against their will, two persons from Florida to Georgia, to be held in the latter state in a condition of peonage, in violation of the statutes of the United States (Rev. Stat. 1990, 5526, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, pp. 1266, 3715). A person arbitrarily or forcibly held against his will for the purpose of compelling him to render personal services in discharge of a debt is in a condition of peonage. It was not claimed in that case that peonage was sanctioned by or could be maintained under the Constitution or laws either of Florida or Georgia. The argument there on behalf of the accused was, in part, that the 13th Amendment was directed solely against the states and their laws, and that its provisions could not be made applicable to individuals whose illegal conduct was not authorized, permitted, or sanctioned by some act, resolution, order, regulation, or usage of the state. That argument was rejected by every member of this court, and we all agreed that Congress had power, under the 13th Amendment, not only to forbid the existence of peonage, but to make it an offense against the United States for any person to hold, arrest, return, or cause to be held, arrested or returned, or who in any manner aided in the arrest or return, of another person, to a condition of peonage. After quoting the above sentences from the opinion in the Civil Rights Cases, Mr. Justice Brewer, speaking for the court, said: ‘Other authorities to the same effect might be cited. It is not open to doubt that Congress may enforce the 13th Amendment by direct legislation, punishing the holding of a person in slavery or in involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime. In the exercise of that power Congress has enacted these sections denouncing peonage, and punishing one who holds another in that condition of involuntary servitude. *34 This legislation is not limited to the territories or other parts of the strictly national domain, but is operative in the states and wherever the sovereignty of the United States extends. We entertain no doubt of the validity of this legislation, or of its applicability to the case of any person holding another in a state of peonage, and this whether there be municipal ordinance or state law sanctioning such holding. It operates directly on every citizen of the republic, wherever his residence may be.’ The Clyatt Case proceeded upon the ground that, although the Constitution and laws of the state might be in perfect harmony with the 13th Amendment, yet the compulsory holding of one individual by another individual for the purpose of compelling the former, by personal service, to discharge his indebtedness to the latter, created a condition of involuntary servitude or peonage, was in derogation of the freedom established by that Amendment, and, therefore, could be reached and punished by the nation. Is it consistent **16 with the principle upon which that case rests to say that an organized body of individuals who forcibly prevent free citizens, solely because of their race, from making a living in a legitimate way, do not infringe any right secured by the national Constitution, and may not be reached or punished by the nation? One who is shut up by superior or overpowering force, constantly present and threatening, from earning his living in a lawful way of his own choosing, is as much in a condition of involuntary servitude as if he were forcibly held in a condition of peonage. In each case his will is enslaved, because illegally subjected, by a combination that he cannot resist, to the will of others in respect of matters which a freeman is entitled to control in such way as to him seems best. It would seem impossible, under former decisions, to sustain the view that a combination or conspiracy of individuals, albeit acting without the sanction of the state, may not be reached and punished by the United States, if the combination and conspiracy has for its object, by force, to prevent or burden the free exercise or enjoyment *35 of a right or privilege created or secured by the Constitution or laws of the United States.

[Hodges v. U.S., 203 U.S. 1, 27 S.Ct. 6 (U.S. 1906)]

PDF Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 17 S.Ct. 326 (U.S. 1897)

Reference has also been made to an act of the colonial general court of Massachusetts, passed in 1647, declaring that a seaman who left his vessel before its voyage was ended might be ‘pursued as a runaway servant.’ But the act referred to was passed when slavery was tolerated in Massachusetts, with the assent of the government of Great Britain. It antedated the famous declaration of rights, promulgated in 1780, in which Massachusetts declared, among other things, that ‘all men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.’

The effect of that declaration was well illustrated in Parsons v. Track, 7 Gray, 473. That case involved the validity of a contract made in a foreign country in 1840 by an adult inhabitant thereof with a citizen of the United States, ‘to serve him, his executors and assigns,’ for the term of five years, ‘during all of which term the said servant her said master, his executors or assigns, faithfully shall serve, and that honestly and obediently in all things, as a good and dutiful servant ought to do.’ It was sought to enforce this contract in Massachusetts. After carefully examining the provisions of the contract, the court said: ‘As to the nature, then, of the service to be performed, the place where and the person *295 to whom it is to be rendered, and the compensation to be paid, the contract is uncertain and indefinite,-indefinite and uncertain, not from any infirmity in the language of the parties, but in its substance and intent. It is, in substance and effect, a contract for servitude, with no limitation but that of time; leaving the master to determine what the service should be, and the place where and the person to whom it should be rendered. Such a contract, it is scarcely necessary to say, is against the policy of our institutions and laws. If such a sale of service could be lawfully made for five years, it might, from the same reasons, for ten, and so for the term of one's life. The door would thus be opened for a species of servitude inconsistent with the first and fundamental article of our declaration of rights, which, proprio vigore, not only abolished every vestige of slavery then existing in the commonwealth, but rendered every form of it thereafter legally impossible. That article has always been regarded, not simply as the declaration of an abstract principle, but as having the active force and conclusive authority of law.’ Observing that one who voluntarily subjected himself to the laws of the state must find in them the rule of restraint as well as the rule of action, the court proceeded: ‘Under this contract the plaintiff had no claim for the labor of the servant for the term of five years, or for any term whatever. She was under no legal obligation to remain in his service. There was no time during which her service was due to the plaintiff, and during which she was kept from such service by the acts of the defendants.

It may be here remarked that the shipping articles signed by the appellants left the term of their service uncertain, and placed no restriction whatever upon the route of the vessel after it left Valparaiso, except that it should ultimately return to some port in the United States.

Under the contract of service it was at the volition of the master to entail service upon these appellants for an indefinite period. So far as the record discloses, it was an accident that the vessel came back to San Francisco when it did. By the shipping articles, the appellants could not quit the vessel until it returned to a port of the *296 United States, and such return depended absolutely upon the will of the master. He had only to land at foreign ports, and keep the vessel away from the United States, in order to prevent the appellants from leaving his service.

Nor, I submit, is any light thrown upon the present question by the history of legislation in Great Britain about seamen. The powers of the British parliament furnish no test for the powers that may be exercised by the congress of the United States. Referring to the difficulties confronting the convention of 1787, which framed the present constitution of the United States, and to the profound differences between the instrument framed by it and what is called the ‘British Constitution,’ Mr. Bryce, an English writer of high authority, says in his admirable work on the American Commonwealth: ‘The British parliament had always been, was then, and remains now, a sovereign and constituent assembly. It can make and unmake any and every law, change the form of government or the succession to the crown, interfere with the course of justice, extinguish the most sacred private rights of the citizen. Between it and the people at large there is no legal distinction, because the whole plenitude of the people's rights and powers resides in it, just as if the whole nation were present within the chamber where it sits. In point of legal theory it is the nation, being the historical successor of the folk mote of our Teutonic forefathers. Both practically and legally, it is to-day the only and the sufficient depository of the authority of the nation, and is, therefore, within the sphere of law, irresponsible and omnipotent.’ Volume 1, p. 35. No such powers have been given to or can be exercised by any legislative body organized under the American system. Absolute, arbitrary power exists nowhere in this free land. The authority for the exercise of power by the congress of the United States must be found in the constitution. Whatever it does in excess of the powers granted to it, or in violation of the injunctions of the supreme law of the land, is a nullity, and may be so treated by every person. It would seem, therefore, evident that no aid in the present discussion can be derived from the **335 legislation of Great Britain touching the rights, duties, and *297 responsibilities of seamen employed on British vessels. If the parliament of Great Britain, her Britannic majesty assenting, should establish slavery or involuntary servitude in England, the courts there would not question its authority to do so, and would have no alternative except to sustain legislation of that character. A very short act of parliament would suffice to destroy all the guaranties of life, liberty, and property now enjoyed by Englishmen. ‘What,’ Mr. Bryce says, ‘are called in England ‘constitutional statutes,’ such as Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement, the Acts of Union with Scotland and Ireland, are merely ordinary laws, which could be repealed by parliament at any moment in exactly the same way as it can repeal a highway act or lower the duty on tobacco.' Parliament, he further says, ‘can abolish, when it pleases, any institution of the country, the crown, the house of lords, the Established Church, the house of commons, parliament itself.’ Volume 1, p. 237. In this country, the will of the people, as expressed in the fundamental law, must be the will of courts and legislatures. No court is bound to enforce, nor is any one legally bound to obey, an act of congress inconsistent with the constitution. If the thirteenth amendment forbids such legislation in reference to seamen as is now under consideration, that is an end of the matter, and it is of no consequence whatever that government in other countries may, by the application of force, or by the infliction of fines and imprisonment, compel seamen to continue in the personal service of those whom they may have agreed to serve in private business.

Is the existing statute to be sustained because its essential provisions were embodied in the act of 1790? I think not, and for the reason, if there were no other, that the thirteenth amendment imposes restrictions upon the powers of congress that did not exist when that act was passed. The supreme law of the land now declares that involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted, shall not exist any where within the United States.

The only exceptions to the general principles I have referred *297 to, so far as they relate to private business, arise out of statutes respecting apprentices of tender years. But statutes relating to that class rest largely upon the idea that a minor is incapable of having an absolute will of his own before reaching majority. The infant apprentice, having no will in the matter, is to be cared for and protected in such way as, in the judgment of the state, will best subserve the interests both of himself and of the public. An apprentice serving his master pursuant to terms permitted by the law cannot, in any proper sense, be said to be in a condition of involuntary servitude. Upon arriving at his majority, the infant apprentice may repudiate the contract of apprenticeship, if it extends beyond that period. 1 Pars. Cont. 50. The word ‘involuntary’ refers, primarily, to persons entitled, in virtue of their age, to act upon their independent judgment when disposing of their time and labor. Will any one say that a person who has reached his majority, and who had voluntarily agreed, for a valuable consideration, to serve another as an apprentice for an indefinite period, or even for a given number of years, can be compelled, against his will, to remain in the service of the master?

It is said that the grounds upon which the legislation in question rests are the same as those existing in the cases of soldiers and sailors. Not so. The army and navy of the United States are engaged in the performance of public, not private, duties. Service in the army or navy of one's country according to the terms of enlistment never implies slavery or involuntary servitude, even where the soldier or sailor is required against his will to respect the terms upon which he voluntarily engaged to serve the public. Involuntary service rendered for the public, pursuant as well to the requirements of a statute as to a previous voluntary engagement, is not, in any legal sense, either slavery or involuntary servitude.

The further suggestion is made that seamen have always been treated, by legislation in this country and in England, as if they needed the protection of the law, in the same sense that minors and wards need the protection of parents and guardians, and hence have been often described as ‘wards of admiralty.’ *299 Some writers say that seamen are in need of the protection of the courts, ‘because peculiarly exposed to the wiles of sharpers, and unable to take care of themselves.’ 1 Pars. Shipp. & Adm. 32. Mr. Justice Story in Harden v. Gordon, 2 Mason, 541, 555, Fed. Cas. No. 6,047, said that ‘every court should watch with jealousy any encroachment upon the rights of seamen, because they are unprotected and need counsel, because they are thoughtless and require indulgence, because they are credulous and complying, and are easily overreached.’ Mr. Justice Thompson, in The Cadmus v. Matthews, 2 Paine, 229, 240, Fed. Cas. No. 2,282, said: ‘In considering the obligation of seamen, arising out of their contract in shipping articles, according to the formula in common use, due weight ought to be given to the character and situation of this class of men. Generally ignorant and improvident, and probably very often signing the shipping articles without knowing what they contain, it is the duty of the court to watch over and protect their rights, and apply very liberal and equitable considerations to the enforcement of their contracts.’

In view of these principles, I am unable to understand how the necessity for the protection of seamen against those who take advantage of them can be made the basis of legislation compelling them, against their **336 will, and by force, to render personal service for others engaged in private business. Their supposed helpless condition is thus made the excuse for imposing upon them burdens that could not be imposed upon other classes without depriving them of rights that inhere in personal freedom. The constitution furnishes no authority for any such distinction between classes of persons in this country. If, prior to the adoption of the thirteenth amendment, the arrest of a seaman, and his forcible return, under any circumstances, to the vessel on which he had engaged to serve, could have been authorized by an act of congress, such deprivation of the liberty of a freeman cannot be justified under the constitution as it now is. To give any other construction to the constitution is to say that it is not made for all, and that all men in this land are not free and equal before the law, but that one class may be so far subjected to involuntary servitude *300 as to be compelled by force to render personal services in a purely private business, with which the public has no concern whatever.

The court holds that, within the meaning of the constitution, the word ‘involuntary’ does not attach to the word ‘servitude’ continuously, and make illegal a service which was voluntary at the outset, but became involuntary before the agreed term of service was ended; consequently, ‘an individual may, for a valuable consideration, contract for the surrender of his personal liberty for a definite time and for a recognized purpose, and subordinate his going and coming to the will of another during the continuance of the contract,-not that all such contracts would be lawful, but that a servitude which was knowingly and willingly entered into could not be termed involuntary. Thus,’ the court proceeds, ‘if one should agree for a yearly wage, to serve another in a particular capacity during his life, and never to leave his estate without his consent, the contract might be void upon grounds of public policy, but the servitude could not be properly termed involuntary. Such agreements properly termed involuntary. Such agreements time were very common in England, and by statute of June 17, 1823 (4 Geo. IV. c. 34), it was enacted that if any servant in husbandry, or any artificer, calico printer, handscraftsman, miner, collier, keelman, pitman, glassman, potter, laborer or other person, should contract to serve another for a definite time, and should desert such service during the term of the contract, he was made liable to a criminal punishment. The breach of a contract for a personal service has not, however, been recognized in this country as involving a liability to criminal punishment, except in the cases of soldiers, sailors, and apprentices, and possibly some others; nor would public opinion tolerate a statute to that effect.

It seems to me that these observations rest upon an erroneous view of the constitutional inhibition upon involuntary servitude.

Of the meaning and scope of the constitutional interdict upon slavery, no one can entertain doubt. A contract by which one person agrees to become the slave of another *301 would not be respected in any court, nor could it become the foundation of any claim or right, even if it were entered into without constraint being used upon the person who assumed to surrender his liberty and to become the property of another. But involuntary servitude, no matter when it arises, if it be not the result of punishment for crime of which the party has been duly convicted, is as much forbidden by the constitution as is slavery. If that condition exists at the time the authority of the law is invoked to protect one against being forcibly compelled to render personal services for another, the court cannot refuse to act because the party seeking relief had voluntarily agreed to render such services during a given period. The voluntary contracts of individuals for personal services in private business cannot justify the existence, anywhere or at any time, in this country, of a condition of involuntary servitude not imposed as a punishment for crime, any more than contracts creating the relation of master and slave can justify the existence and recognition of a state of slavery anywhere, or with respect to any persons, within the jurisdiction of the United States. The condition of one who contracts to render personal services in connection with the private business of another becomes a condition of involuntary servitude from the moment he is compelled, against his will, to continue in such service. He may be liable in damages for the nonperformance of his agreement, but to require him, against his will, to continue in the personal service of his master, is to place him and keep him in a condition of involuntary servitude. It will not do to say that by ‘immemorial usage’ seamen could be held in a condition of involuntary servitude, without having been convicted of crime. The people of the United States, by an amendment of their fundamental law, have solemnly decreed that, ‘except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,’ involuntary servitude shall not exist in any form in this country. The adding another exception by interpretation simply, and without amending the constitution, is, I submit, judicial legislation. It is a very serious matter when a judicial tribunal, by the construction of an act of congress, defeats the expressed will of the *302 legislative branch of the government. It is a still more serious matter when the clear reading of a constitutional provision relating to the liberty of man is departed from in deference to what is called ‘usage,’ which has existed, for the most part, under monarchical and despotic governments.

In considering this case it is our duty to **337 look at the consequences of any decision that may be rendered. We cannot avoid this duty by saying that it will be time enough to consider supposed cases when they arise. When such supposed cases do arise, those who seek judicial support for extraordinary remedies that encroach upon the liberty of freemen will, of course, refer to the principles announced in previous adjudications, and demand their application to the particular case in hand.

It is, therefore, entirely appropriate to inquire as to the necessary results of the sanction given by this court to the statute here in question. If congress, under its power to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, can authorize the arrest of a seaman who engaged to serve upon a private vessel, and compel him by force to return to the vessel, and remain during the term for which he engaged, a similar rule may be prescribed as to employés upon railroads and steamboats engaged in commerce among the states. Even if it were conceded-a concession to be made only for argument's sake-that it could be made a criminal offense, punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both, for such employés to quit their employment before the expiration of the term for which they agreed to serve, it would not follow that they could be compelled, against their will and in advance of trial and conviction, to continue in such service. But the decision to-day logically leads to the conclusion that such a power exists in congress. Again, as the legislatures of the states have all legislative power not prohibited to them, while congress can only exercise certain enumerated powers for accomplishing specified objects, why may not the states, under the principles this day announced, compel all employés of railroads engaged in domestic commerce, and all domestic servants, and all employés in private establishments, within *303 their respective limits, to remain with their employers during the terms for which they were severally engaged, under the penalty of being arrested by some sheriff or constable, and forcibly returned to the service of their employers? The mere statement of these matters is sufficient to indicate the scope of the decision this day rendered.

The thirteenth amendment, although tolerating involuntary servitude only when imposed as a punishment for crime, of which the party shall have been duly convicted, has been construed, by the decision just rendered, as if it contained an additional clause expressly excepting from its operation seamen who engage to serve on private vessels. Under this view of the constitution, we may now look for advertisements, not for runaway servants as in the days of slavery, but for runaway seamen. In former days, overseers could stand with whip in hand over slaves, and force them to perform personal service for their masters. While, with the assent of all, that condition of things has ceased to exist, we can but be reminded of the past, when it is adjudged to be consistent with the law of the land for freemen, who happen to be seamen, to be held in custody, that they may be forced to go aboard private vessels, and render personal services against their will.

In my judgment, the holding of any person in custody, whether in jail or by an officer of the law, against his will, for the purpose of compelling him to render personal service to another in a private business, places the person so held in custody in a condition of involuntary servitude, forbidden by the constitution of the United States; consequently, that the statute as it now is, and under which the appellants were arrested at Astoria, and placed against their will on the barkentine Arago, is null and void, and their refusal to work on such vessel, after being forcibly returned to it, could not be made a public offense, authorizing their subsequent arrest at San Francisco.

I dissent from the opinion and judgment of the court.

[Robertson v. Baldwin, 165 U.S. 275, 17 S.Ct. 326 (U.S. 1897)]

Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409 (1968):

"As its text reveals, the Thirteenth Amendment "is not a mere prohibition of State laws establishing or upholding slavery, but an absolute declaration that slavery or involuntary servitude shall not exist in any part of the United States." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20 . It has never been doubted, therefore, "that the power vested in Congress to enforce the article by appropriate legislation," ibid., includes the power to enact laws "direct and primary, operating upon the acts of individuals, whether sanctioned by State legislation or not." Id., at 23. 74  

"Thus, the fact that 1982 operates upon the unofficial acts of private individuals, whether or not sanctioned by state law, presents no constitutional problem. If Congress has power under the Thirteenth Amendment to eradicate conditions that prevent Negroes from buying and renting property because of their race or color, then no federal statute calculated to achieve that objective [392 U.S. 409, 439]   can be thought to exceed the constitutional power of Congress simply because it reaches beyond state action to regulate the conduct of private individuals. The constitutional question in this case, therefore, comes to this: Does the authority of Congress to enforce the Thirteenth Amendment "by appropriate legislation" include the power to eliminate all racial barriers to the acquisition of real and personal property? We think the answer to that question is plainly yes.

"By its own unaided force and effect," the Thirteenth Amendment "abolished slavery, and established universal freedom." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 20 . Whether or not the Amendment itself did any more than that - a question not involved in this case - it is at least clear that the Enabling Clause of that Amendment empowered Congress to do much more. For that clause clothed "Congress with power to pass all laws necessary and proper for abolishing all badges and incidents of slavery in the United States." Ibid. (Emphasis added.)
Those who opposed passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 argued in effect that the Thirteenth Amendment merely authorized Congress to dissolve the legal bond by which the Negro slave was held to his master. 75 Yet many had earlier opposed the Thirteenth Amendment on the very ground that it would give Congress virtually unlimited power to enact laws for the protection of Negroes in every State. 76 And the majority leaders in Congress - who were, after all, the authors of the Thirteenth Amendment - had no doubt that its Enabling Clause contemplated the sort of positive legislation that [392 U.S. 409, 440]   was embodied in the 1866 Civil Rights Act. Their chief spokesman, Senator Trumbull of Illinois, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had brought the Thirteenth Amendment to the floor of the Senate in 1864. In defending the constitutionality of the 1866 Act, he argued that, if the narrower construction of the Enabling Clause were correct, then
"the trumpet of freedom that we have been blowing throughout the land has given an `uncertain sound,' and the promised freedom is a delusion. Such was not the intention of Congress, which proposed the constitutional amendment, nor is such the fair meaning of the amendment itself. . . . I have no doubt that under this provision . . . we may destroy all these discriminations in civil rights against the black man; and if we cannot, our constitutional amendment amounts to nothing. It was for that purpose that the second clause of that amendment was adopted, which says that Congress shall have authority, by appropriate legislation, to carry into effect the article prohibiting slavery. Who is to decide what that appropriate legislation is to be? The Congress of the United States; and it is for Congress to adopt such appropriate legislation as it may think proper, so that it be a means to accomplish the end." 77  
"Surely Senator Trumbull was right. Surely Congress has the power under the Thirteenth Amendment rationally to determine what are the badges and the incidents of slavery, and the authority to translate that determination into effective legislation. Nor can we say that the determination Congress has made is an irrational [392 U.S. 409, 441]   one. For this Court recognized long ago that, whatever else they may have encompassed, the badges and incidents of slavery - its "burdens and disabilities" - included restraints upon "those fundamental rights which are the essence of civil freedom, namely, the same right . . . to inherit, purchase, lease, sell and convey property, as is enjoyed by white citizens." Civil Rights Cases, 109 U.S. 3, 22 . 78 Just as the Black Codes, enacted after the Civil [392 U.S. 409, 442]   War to restrict the free exercise of those rights, were substitutes for the slave system, so the exclusion of Negroes from white communities became a substitute for the Black Codes. And when racial discrimination herds men [392 U.S. 409, 443]   into ghettos and makes their ability to buy property turn on the color of their skin, then it too is a relic of slavery.

"Negro citizens, North and South, who saw in the Thirteenth Amendment a promise of freedom - freedom to "go and come at pleasure" 79 and to "buy and sell when they please" 80 - would be left with "a mere paper guarantee" 81 if Congress were powerless to assure that a dollar in the hands of a Negro will purchase the same thing as a dollar in the hands of a white man. At the very least, the freedom that Congress is empowered to secure under the Thirteenth Amendment includes the freedom to buy whatever a white man can buy, the right to live wherever a white man can live. If Congress cannot say that being a free man means at least this much, then the Thirteenth Amendment made a promise the Nation cannot keep." 

[Jones v. Mayer, 392 U.S. 409 (1968)]