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The amendment was passed after a bitter civil war which devastated the country, pitting the pro-slavery Confederate States of America, which included Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky, against the mostly anti-slavery United States of America, which included states such as New York and Illinois.

But the thirteenth amendment widened its scope to include the whole of America.

Speaking about slavery in a speech in 1864, Lincoln remarked: “Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature -- opposition to it is in his love of justice.” He continued: “These principles are an eternal antagonism, and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow.” He added: “Repeal all past history, you still can not repeal human nature.

French historian Fernand Braudel noted that slavery was endemic in Africa and part of the structure of everyday life.

"Slavery came in different guises in different societies: there were court slaves, slaves incorporated into princely armies, domestic and household slaves, slaves working on the land, in industry, as couriers and intermediaries, even as traders".

One even warns African Americans that law enforcement has the power to return them to their plantations should they escape.