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13th Amendment signed by Congress and President Lincoln - Text edited by Stanley L. Klos


Constitutional Amendment XIII

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

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.


13th Amendment signed by Congress and President Lincoln - Courtesy of Stanley L. Klos



Adoption of the Amendment to the Constitution by Congress.

The 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 numbers present.

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 immediately adjourned.

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 its honor.

The Crowning Event of the War -
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, they
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 aforesaid
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

President Lincoln Second Inaugural

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 righteous altogether.'

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 of the
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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