Today In History Spotlights Jan. 31, 1865, 13th Amendment to the US Constitution is Passed

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Today’s History Spotlight

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The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution is passed. The first of three Reconstruction amendments, this new addition to the Constitution prohibited slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishable for a crime.

Often considered one of the most important amendments added to the Constitution, it reinforced President Lincoln’s vision of a “New birth of freedom,” upheld the proposition that “All men are created equal,” and paved the way for racial equality in the US. African-Americans would, unfortunately, still have a long road towards racial equality, as state laws in both the North and South would defy the federal Constitution.

What Happened On This Day – January 31

  • 2011 Myanmar’s first elected parliament in half a century convenes. The event underlined a general move towards democracy in the country.
  • 2000 Alaska Airlines flight 261 crashes into the sea. The MD-83 experienced horizontal stabilizer problems before descending into the Pacific Ocean, killing all 88 on board.
  • 1996 A suicide bombing in Sri Lanka kills 91 people. Separatist Tamil Tigers detonated a truck loaded with explosives in front of the central bank in Colombo.
  • 1961 Ham the Chimp travels into outer space. The chimpanzee survived the US Mercury Program test flight with just a bruised nose.
  • 1865 The 13th Amendment to the US Constitution is passed. The Amendment, which officially abolished slavery, was adopted on December 6, 1865.

Births On This Day – January 31

  • 1982 Elena Paparizou – Greek/Swedish singer-songwriter
  • 1975 Preity Zinta – Indian actress
  • 1937 Philip Glass – American composer
  • 1919 Jackie Robinson – American baseball player
  • 1797 Franz Schubert – Austrian composer

Deaths On This Day – January 31

  • 1969 Meher Baba – Indian mystic
  • 1956 A. A. Milne – English author
  • 1954 Edwin Armstrong – American engineer, invented FM radio
  • 1888 John Bosco – Italian priest, educator
  • 1606 Guy Fawkes – English soldier, planned the Gunpowder Plot

The sections “What Happened On This Day,” “Births On This Day,” and “Deaths On This Day” originally appeared at and is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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