Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Thirteenth Amendment Passed by Senate, 
April 8, 1864

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawed slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. 

It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864

It was passed by the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. 

It was the first of the three Reconstruction Amendments adopted after the American Civil War.

President Abraham Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which in 1863 declared the freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states then in rebellion, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based solely on Lincoln's war powers. The Proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states, nor did it abolish slavery.   Because of this, Lincoln and other supporters believed that an amendment to the Constitution was needed.

When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed, there had been no new amendments adopted in more than 60 years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. 
The United States had officially ceased slave importation in 1807 after the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves and the British Slave Trade Act 1807. It had intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made such a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, (Republican, Ohio).

On January 11, 1864, Senator John Henderson of Missouri submitted a join resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery.  As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal that combined the drafts.

The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6.

However, just over two months later on June 15, the House failed to get the necessary two-thirds vote for passage, with 93 in favor and 65 against. Representative Ashley was instrumental in its eventual passage. He was the House floor manager and persuaded a number of Democrats to support it.  President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the 1864 presidential election. 

Finally, after seven months of debate and promises of patronage, the House narrowly reached the two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. 

The Thirteenth Amendment's archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words "Approved February 1, 1865".

The amendment was sent to the state legislatures. The Northern states quickly ratified it. 

President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865 and Andrew Johnson succeeded Lincoln.  President Johnson strongly recommended that the ex-Confederate states ratify the amendment (and also repeal their ordinances of secession).

On December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed the amendment to have been adopted as of December 6, 1865, when Georgia's ratification brought the total number of ratifying states to 27, of the then 36 states in the union. 

Florida ratified it on December 28, 1865; New Jersey in 1866; and Texas in 1870.

Delaware  ratified it in 1901, and Kentucky in 1976. 

Mississippi, whose legislature voted in 1995 to do so, belatedly notified the Office of the Federal Register in February 2013 of that legislative action, completing the legal process for the state.

No comments:

Post a Comment