The Thirteenth Amendment and Interest Convergence

20 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011 Last revised: 11 Oct 2012

Date Written: September 23, 2011


The Thirteenth Amendment was intended to eliminate the institution of slavery and to eliminate the legacy of slavery. Having accomplished the former, the Amendment has only rarely been extended to the latter. The Thirteenth Amendment’s great promise therefore remains unrealized.

This Article explores the gap between the Thirteenth Amendment’s promise and its implementation. Drawing on Critical Race Theory, this Article argues that the relative underdevelopment of Thirteenth Amendment doctrine is due in part to a lack of perceived interest convergence in eliminating what the Amendment’s Framers called the “badges and incidents of slavery.” The theory of interest convergence, in its strongest form, suggests that civil rights gains seldom happen unless they are perceived as advancing, or at least not hindering, the material interests of dominant groups.

Keywords: Thirteenth Amendment, badges and incidents of slavery, race, civil rights, racial profiling, Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., Fourteenth Amendment, equal protection, Equal Protection Clause, slavery, abolition, civil war, reconstruction, Congress, black codes, slave codes, Brown v. Board of Education

JEL Classification: K00, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Carter, Jr., William M., The Thirteenth Amendment and Interest Convergence (September 23, 2011). Maryland Law Review, Fall 2011, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-02, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Available at SSRN: or

William M. Carter, Jr. (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-648-1420 (Phone)

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics