71 Md. L. Rev. 203 (2011-2012)
The Thirteenth Amendment and the Meaning of Familial Bonds

handle is hein.journals/mllr71 and id is 205 raw text is: THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT
AND THE MEANING OF FAMILIAL BONDS
JULIE NovKov*
The majority of Thirteenth Amendment literature focuses on the
historical roots of the Amendment, the effects of emancipation, and
its immediate and long-term significance. I wish to approach the
Thirteenth Amendment from a somewhat different perspective and
think about the meaning of slavery in the context of familial relations.
This line of inquiry follows feminist historians' considerations of the
intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in the antebellum and
post-bellum years. By addressing the significance of military service, I
will seek to create a form of civic membership that exists alongside ci-
tizenship but does not depend on it. I will then suggest a next step
forward, using contemporary debates over immigration and marriage
rights to show how the Thirteenth Amendment can support not only
robust rights claims by individuals, but also by the family unit as a
whole.
Part I of this Essay will analyze the meaning of chattel slavery and
trace the concepts of family, marriage, and military service through-
out the emancipation era. Part II will explain the different perspec-
tives through which scholars have seen the Thirteenth Amendment,
involving both the individual and the family. Part III will examine
how refocusing the Thirteenth Amendment on the family unit sup-
ports arguments for providing significant rights and protections to
immigrants and gays and lesbians. Part IV will briefly summarize and
conclude this Essay.
I. WHAT WAS CHATTEL SLAVERY, AND WHAT DID THE THIRTEENTH
AMENDMENT ABOLISH?
The most obvious meaning of chattel slavery is the forced and
uncompensated expropriation of labor from some individuals by oth-
Copyright @ 2011 byJulie Novkov.
* Chair, Department of Political Science, University at Albany, SUNY. Ph.D. 1998,
University of Michigan (political science); J.D. 1992, New York University School of Law. I
thank the participants at the 2011 Maryland Constitutional Law Schmooze, particularly
Lea VanderVelde, Rebecca Zietlow, and Maria Ontiveros, and host Mark Graber for col-
lecting a provocative and fascinating group around the topic of the Thirteenth Amend-
ment.

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