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Tag: 13th amendment

Emancipation Proclamation: The 13th Amendment

Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick.

Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 01/31/1865–01/31/1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789–2008; General Records of the United States Government, 1778–2006, Record Group 11; National Archives (National Archives Identifier: 1408764)

The news of the Emancipation Proclamation was greeted with joy, even though it did not free all the slaves. Because of the limitations of the proclamation, and because it depended on a Union military victory, President Lincoln recognized that the Emancipation Proclamation would have to be followed by a constitutional amendment in order to abolish slavery.

After the Senate passed a bill for an amendment in April 1864, but the House of Representatives did not, Lincoln suggested that the bill be taken up by the Republican Party in its 1864 platform for the upcoming Presidential elections.

His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. The necessary number of states ratified it by December 6, 1865.

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery in the United States. It provides that ”Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been … [ Read all ]

The other 13th Amendment

Joint Resolution Proposing a 13th Amendment to the Constitution signed by President James Buchanan, March 2, 1861. National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

Joint Resolution Proposing a 13th Amendment to the Constitution signed by President James Buchanan, March 2, 1861. National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government, RG 11.

The year 1861 was a dire one for the United States. In its opening months, five southern states joined South Carolina in seceding from the Union. In the recent 1860 election, the victor Abraham Lincoln hadn’t even appeared on the ballots of a third of the states in the Union. A bloody civil war loomed. In their final hours in office, President Buchanan  and Congress were desperate to preserve the Union, even if it meant preserving the practice of slavery.

On March 2, 1861, two days before leaving office, Buchanan endorsed an amendment to the Constitution that had been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives just weeks before South Carolina seceded. It read:

The following article be proposed to the legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which, where ratified by three-fourths of said legislatures, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of the said Constitution, viz:

Article XII. No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress the power to abolish or interfere, within any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to

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