Today In History : January 31, 2022
On This Day In History
On January 31, 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which abolished slavery in the United States. The amendment says, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The American Civil War was centered around the issue of slavery. Slavery existed in northern as well as southern states, however the southern states had a lot more to lose if slavery were abolished outright. At the beginning of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln’s primary goal was to restore the Union, not to end slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation in September, 1862, to free enslaved people only in areas that were in rebellion against the Union. It did not affect enslaved people in the northern states. The Emancipation Proclamation was a move to weaken the rebellion, not to end the institution of slavery in America.
It is hard to say exactly how Lincoln evolved on the issue of slavery. However, by the time the war ended, Lincoln was dead set on ending slavery in the country. He worked very hard at getting lawmakers to support legislation aimed at getting rid of the institution of slavery. Because states held the power to be “slave states” or “free states,” in order for the institution of slavery to end nation-wide, Congress would have to modify the Constitution.
In January of 1865, Congress did just that. On January 31, 1865, Congress voted to pass the 13th Amendment, to end slavery. In December of that year, the senate ratified the 13th Amendment, and slavery was abolished.