On this date in 1865, Congress passed the 13th Amendment.
In 1863 President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Nonetheless, the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation. Lincoln recognized that the Emancipation Proclamation would have to be followed by a constitutional amendment in order to guarantee the abolishment of slavery. Lincoln took an active role to ensure passage through congress. He insisted that passage of the 13th amendment be added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865 with a vote of 119–56.
The 13th amendment passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, and the House on January 31, 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 text to the 13th Amendment is as follows:
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 legislation.
The adoption of the 13th amendment has been just one of the ways that America moved toward expanded civil rights of American citizens.
Looking at the current state of America, it’s difficult to see freedom from slavery. There’s still the physical slavery of poverty. There is the mental slavery that some people continue to carry either through learning from family or the environment. There’s slavery to things. There’s the slavery of material possessions. Alcohol, drugs, negative thinking, religion, no religion… the list could go on.
How do we break this intangible slavery that permeates us on a daily basis?
I continue to stand by education as a way of freedom.
By educating ourselves, our children, a stranger, we pass on a gift that can never be taken away.