13th Amendment signed by Congress and President Lincoln - Text edited by
Stanley L. Klos
Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.
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.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
13th Amendment signed by Congress and President Lincoln - Courtesy of
Stanley L. Klos
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY.
the Amendment to the Constitution by Congress.
New York Herald - Our Special Washington Despatch.
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 1865.
The Constitutional Amendment was passed this afternoon by a vote of one
hundred and nineteen to fifty-six. The scene was one to be remembered by all
who were privileged to be present. The floor of the hall was crowded, as were
the galleries, the intense interest of the occasion having attracted the large
At the commencement of the session Mr. Ashley, who had the amendment in
charge, gave notice that at three oa vote was desired; but it was not until
after four P.M. that a vote was reached. Several members discussed the
amendment until that time. Mr. Kalbfleisch, of New York, made a speech against
the amendment, in which he presented the case in opposition with much ability;
but he failed to convince the House. Mr. Sweat, of Maine, was the only New
England representative who voted against it. Mr. Oux, of Ohio, had a letter
from Mr. Guthrie, of Kentucky, urging him to vote for it, but could not see
his way clear to do it, and his vote was finally recorded against it.
Of the New York representatives seven democrats voted for the amendment,
namely: Messrs. Odell, Ganson, Steele, Radford, Nelson, Herrick and Griswold.
These were nineteen votes in favor of the amendment from representatives of
slave States, and in all twenty democrats in its favor. Of the New England
delegation only one - Mr. Sweat, of Maine - voted against it. Every republican
member was in his seat, and voted in its favor.
Upon the announcement of the vote loud and continuous cheering arose
spontaneously from the crowd on the floor and in the galleries, and the House
This success has inspired a jubilant feeling throughout the city, and the
ante-rooms of the hotels were crowded this
evening, and general congratulation and rejoicing were indulged in. A salute
of one hundred guns was fired immediately upon the passage of the amendment in
The Crowning Event of the
The Constitutional Abolition of
Slavery Throughout the United States.
The proceedings in the Congress of the United States were signalized yesterday
by one of the most remarkable, important, desirable, decisive and momentous
events in the records of this or any other nation of modern of ancient times.
We refer to the vote - 119 to 56 - in the House of Representatives by which
the constitutional amendment declaring slavery abolished and forever hereafter
interdicted throughout the United States passes from Congress to the final
ratification of three-fourths of the thirty-six States belonging to the Union.
The fifth article of the federal constitution provides that Congress, whenever
two-thirds of both houses shall deem it
necessary, shall propose amendments to this constitution, or, on the
application of the Legislatures of two-thirds of the several States, shall
call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be
valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this constitution, when ratified
by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States, or by conventions
in three-fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be
proposed by Congress.' This is the constitution, and that its framers
contemplated an amendment abolishing or affecting slavery is apparent from the
proviso which immediately follows - that amendment which may be made prior to
the year 1808 shall in any manner affect' the African slave trade, which, as a
compromise with the South Carolina planters and New England salve traders, was
authorized by the constitution to be continued down to the year 1808. Thus the
authority and the intention of the constitution are plain; and whether by
State conventions or by the State legislatures, we are confident that this
amendment will secure the ratification of the three-fourths of all the States
required to make it a part of the law of the land.'
The institution of slavery may thus be considered as abolished throughout the
United States. The experiment of a Southern confederacy, by war against the
Union, and for the protection, perpetuation and expansion of Southern slavery,
has destroyed it. Otherwise, by adhering to the Union, the rebellious States,
or a large portion of them, might have preserved their institution' for a
hundred years to come. Now the pressure of this exhausting war has driven the
rebel leaders t the dreaded alternative of discussing the proposition of
abolishing slavery to save the confederacy. When they thus admit that slavery,
the cause of their rebellion, must be abandoned t maintain their confederacy,
are but a step from the abandonment of their confederacy itself, slavery and
all. In this connection, we have some private information from Washington,
communicated several days ago, to the effect that the passage of this
constitutional amendment will be immediately followed by another peace mission
to Richmond, or by a committee of peace ambassadors from Richmond, to treat
for peace upon the basis of submission to the Union. It is somewhat
remarkable, too, that on the very day of the passage of the amendment in
question, a peace commission of three or four distinguished men from Richmond
should be applying for a passage through our military lines and a permit for a
trip to Washington. It has been further intimated to us that Mr. Seward has
been exceedingly anxious for the passage of this constitutional amendment as
the initial point of a great peace compromise with Jeff. Davis, embracing a
reconstruction of the Union.
We are promised the most wonderful developments in this direction, in
consequence of the passage of this amendment. Assuming, however, that all such
promises rest upon idle speculations, we have still abundant cause for
gratification over yesterday work in Congress. It puts an end to all tinkering
abolition experiments at Washington and Richmond; it banishes all doubts as to
the fate of African slavery in this country; it settles the slavery question,
and removes that stumbling block from American politics, North and South. It
cuts off the last pretext for European intervention in behalf of Davis,
prepares a solid and enduring platform for the reunion of the loyal and
rebellious States, and the enforcement of the Monroe doctrine in an easy
alliance with all the independent Stats of North and South America.
Hence we congratulate the American people, North and South, on the grand
success of this great measure in both houses of Congress for the
constitutional abolition of slavery through the length and breadth of the
land, in every place and forevermore. Congress responds to the will of the
people. Let the states now ratify their work.
March 5, 1865
The New York Herald
The brief address delivered yesterday by President Lincoln, on the occasion of
his second inauguration, gives us a passing review of his four years just
expired, but furnished no information as to his future policy. He says that,
'Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have
constantly been called forth (from himself) on every point and phase of the
great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of
the nation, little that is new could be presented. 'We are thus left to the
conclusion that, having fully defined his policy and purposes heretofore in
reference to the rebellion, the war, peace and reconstruction, he has nothing
more to say.
We think, however, that some allusion by Mr. Lincoln to the late Hampton Roads
Peace Conference, embracing a distinct declaration of the terms upon which the
rebellious States and the insurgents thereof will be received back into the
Union, would have been very gratifying to the people of the loyal States, and
would have had a good effect among the Southern people directly concerned at
this particular time. We are disappointed in the silence of the inaugural upon
this subject, and also with its silence touching the Mexican question,
Napoleon, Maximilian, Dr. Gwin, the Monroe doctrine, and the Baltimore
platform, upon which Old Abe was renominated and re- elected.
The address is mainly devoted to the subject of slavery as the cause of the
war, and to the astounding revolution upon the slavery question which the war
has brought about. Mr. Lincoln accepts the war as a national punishment from
the Almighty for the 'of slavery, and the destruction of the institution as
His infallible will and purpose. 'Fervently do we pray,' says the
President, the mighty scourge of war my speedily pass away. Yet, if God
wills that it continue
until all the wealth piled by the bondman two hundred and fifty years of
unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the lash
shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years
ago, still it must be said that the judgments of the Lord are true and
Now, this may be a strictly orthodox declaration, resting upon judgments of
the Lord; 'but is it calculated to do any good? We think not. How will it be
construed by last ditch' leaders of the rebellion? They will construe it to
their despairing followers as an official declaration from despot Lincoln'
that it is his purpose to prosecute this war to the total extirpation of
slavery, though it may involve the extermination of the white race of the
South, and the destruction of their property, root and branch. Surely there is
no wisdom in a declaration admitting this construction; nor can we find in it
that for all, 'which Mr. Lincoln recommends.
We had expected from this inaugural a different treatment of the slavery
question; that Mr. Lincoln would deal with the institution as a thing already
beyond the power of further mischief, and that, therefore, with the submission
rebellious States, the remnants of slavery still existing within their borders
could be safely left to the constitutional
amendment before the States for the total abolition of slavery throughout the
length and breadth of the land. It would be a natural inference, from the
absence of even a passing remark upon this amendment, that Mr. Lincoln classes
it with his emancipation proclamation, as nothing better than Pope bull
against the comet,' and that only the sword can effect the abolition of
slavery after all.
But we are inclined to receive this inaugural simply as the necessary speech
which the occasion demanded - a little speech of generalities,' put in to fill
up the programme, and as nothing more. We grant that it is not quite up to the
mark of the last imperial speech of Louis Napoleon; but it has answered its
purpose. Mr. Lincoln has told us heretofore that he waits upon events, and is
guided by them, and this being the case, his discourse of yesterday was only
an effort at best to avoid any commitment upon any question affecting our
domestic or foreign affairs, excepting the abolition of slavery. That
question, being practically settled, he was free to discuss, and it has served
its purpose of a tub to the whale.
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