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In other states, such as Virginia, similar declarations of rights were interpreted by the courts as not applicable to Africans and African Americans.

During the following decades, the abolitionist movement grew in northern states, and Congress regulated the expansion of slavery in new states admitted to the union.

After the American Revolution established the United States, northern states, beginning with Pennsylvania in 1780, passed legislation during the next two decades abolishing slavery, sometimes by gradual emancipation.

Today, child and adult slavery and forced labour are illegal in most countries, as well as being against international law, but a high rate of human trafficking for labour and for sexual bondage continues to affect tens of millions of adults and children.

In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that "France signifies freedom" and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed.

Massachusetts ratified a constitution that declared all men equal; freedom suits challenging slavery based on this principle brought an end to slavery in the state.

Vermont, which existed as an unrecognized state from 1777 to 1791, abolished adult slavery in 1777.