The Thirteenth Amendment renders unenforceable contracts for personal services, suits for damages in cases of breaches of such contracts being the only remedy left the ones to whom such services have been promised. A more doubtful question is as to the power of the States or of the United States to provide punishment for the breach of contracts for personal services. Various cases have been decided in the state and federal courts with reference to this point. In general it may be said that the doctrine is established that statutes making criminal the mere breach of

The breach of a contract for personal service has not, however, been recognized in this country as involving a liability to criminal punishment, except in the cases of soldiers, sailors, and possibly some others, nor would public opinion tolerate a statute to that effect. But we are also of opinion that, even if the contract of a seaman could be considered within the letter of the Thirteenth Amendment, it is not, within its spirit, a case of involuntary servitude. The law is perfectly well settled that the first ten Amendments of the Constitution, commonly known as the Bill of Rights, were not intended to lay down any novel principles of government, but simply to embody certain guaranties and immunities which we had inherited from our English ancestors, and which had from time immemorial been subject to certain well-recognized exceptions arising from the necessities of the case. . . . The prohibition of slavery in the Thirteenth Amendment is well known to have been adopted with reference to a state of affairs which had existed in certain States of the Union since the foundation of the government, while the addition of the words 'involuntary servitude' was said in Butchers' Benev. Asso. v. Crescent City L. S. L. & S. P. Co ("Slaughter House Cases," 16 Wall. 36; 21 L. ed. 394), to have been intended to cover the system of Mexican peonage and the Chinese coolie trade, the practical revival of which might have been the revival of the institution of slavery under a different and less offensive name. It is clear, however, that the amendment was not intended to introduce any novel doctrine with respect to certain descriptions of service which have always been treated as exceptions, - such as military and naval enlistments, - or to the right of parents and guardians as to their minor children or wards. The amendment, however, makes no distinction between a public and a private service. To say that persons engaged in a public service are not within the amendment is to admit that there are exceptions to its general language, and the further question is at once presented, Where shall the line be drawn? We know of no better answer to make than to say that services which have from time immemorial been treated as exceptional shall not be regarded as within its purview. From the earliest historical period the contract of the sailor has been treated as an exceptional one and involving to a certain extent, the surrender of his personal liberty during the life of the contract." contract is void as in violation of the amendment; but that where such breach involves deliberate fraud, as for example, where prepayment for the services has been made and received, the law will be sustained, even though the effort may be, by intimidation, to compel the performance of the promised services.

Equity courts would also undoubtedly feel themselves justified in issuing orders restraining servants from quitting work at a time that will endanger human life or limb, or, indeed, will cause unnecessary or irremediable pecuniary loss to the employer. Thus, for example, the train hands of a railway company might be forbidden to leave their employment before bringing their train to its destination, or at least to some station where additional hands might be obtained to operate the train.40

40 Freund, Police Power, §§ 333, 452. See especially Toledo, etc., R. Co. v. Penn. Co., 54 Fed. Rep. 730; Arthur v. Oakes, 63 Fed. Rep. 310.