The 13th Amendment: Outlawing Slavery
|The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States. It read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude …shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”When the Civil War began in 1861, President Lincoln’s professed goal was the restoration of the Union. But early in the war, the Union began keeping escaped slaves rather than returning them to their owners, so slavery essentially ended wherever the Union army was victorious. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in areas that were still in rebellion against the Union. This measure opened the issue of what to do about slavery in border states that had not seceded or in areas that had been captured by the Union before the proclamation.In 1864, an amendment abolishing slavery passed the Senate but died in the House of Representatives as Democrats, typically from confederate southern state, rallied in the name of states’ rights. Lincoln won a second Presidential term in the election of 1864, which also brought Republican majorities in both houses, so it appeared the amendment was headed back to Congress for passage when the new Republican lead Congress convened in March 1865.Lincoln preferred that the amendment receive bipartisan support–some Democrats indicated support for the measure, but many still resisted. The amendment passed 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. Several Democrats abstained from voting, but the 13th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, which came in December 1865. With the passage of the amendment, the institution that had indelibly shaped American history and had started the Civil War was finally eradicated.|
|Developing a Deeper Understanding1. In what year was the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution ratified?
2. According to the article, what was the “single greatest change created by the Civil War”?
3. Outline President Lincoln’s goal for the United States?
4. Describe the purpose of the Emancipation Proclamation:
5. What enabled the Thirteenth Amendment to be ratified?
6. Critical Thinking: What do you think America would be like today if the Democrats had won the 1864 election?