The comments to this post – and the subject of the post itself – reminded me of something I wondered about some years back when I was thinking of the different ways different countries have approached dramatic transitions from one type of regime to another, such as the transition from authoritarianism to some form of democracy, or from a slave society to a free* society.

After the American Civil War, a number of legal restrictions were placed – at least temporarily – on people who served the Confederacy, but was anyone post-13th Amendment ever prosecuted or sued for the crime of slavery** committed before passage of the amendment? I suspect the answer if no, but I’m not asking rhetorically. I’m curious if suits were filed but thrown out of court.

*Recognizing that the failure of Reconstruction limited just how free that former slave society became.

**I’m not sure if one could literally sue someone for slavery or if it technically would have had to have been a suit against something like “unlawful imprisonment.” But you know what I mean.