Whoa.......before you start yelling at the screen and telling me I'm full of #$^%........let me explain.

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Our 16th President, considered to be the greatest in our Nation's history, Abraham Lincoln opened the path to abolish slavery on the first day of 1863 with the Emancipation Proclamation.

Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash
Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

It paved the way for the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution (which was passed by Congress before Lincoln's assassination in 1865 but ratified after) that would abolish slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States except............

The 13th Amendment had a carve out, considered by many to be an exemption clause, that stated prisoners convicted of crimes could be forced to do labor or face punishment while in custody.

This exemption is still in place in roughly 10 states, but a number are placing initiatives or amendments to their State Constitutions on the ballot for voters to decide whether or not to keep the provision.

While many would argue that forced labor in a prison setting is not slavery, those that are pushing for prison reform would citethe definition of slavery itself as descriptive of forced labor in prisons.

While Washington State has no mention of slavery or involuntary servitude in it's Constitution our neighbors to the south, Oregon, does.

Article I Section 34 of the Oregon Constitution states: "There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted"

There is a Measure on the November ballot in the Beaver State, Measure 112, that would remove that language from the State Constitution for good.  Four other States, Alabama, Louisiana, Vermont (the first State to abolish slavery in 1777), and Tennessee are also looking at removing the language on their ballots as well this year.

LOOK: What major laws were passed the year you were born?

Data for this list was acquired from trusted online sources and news outlets. Read on to discover what major law was passed the year you were born and learn its name, the vote count (where relevant), and its impact and significance.

Gallery Credit: Katelyn Leboff

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