“To whom is the country more immediately indebted for this vital and saving amendment of the Constitution than, perhaps, to any other man? I believe I may confidently answer- to the humble railsplitter of Illinois-to the Presidential Chainbreaker for millions of the oppressed-to Abraham Lincoln!”
William Lloyd Garrison
Abraham Lincoln wanted it more than anything else. He wanted it so much that he tasted it. A Constitutional Amendment to end slavery in the United States had to be passed. Lincoln sounded the death knell on slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation. That presidential war measure, however, was only a beginning step. With an amendment there would be no turning back. A new president could potentially revoke the Emancipation Proclamation, but a Constitutional Amendment was something different altogether.
Lincoln had been working towards the amendment for more than a year. He personally talked to prominant individuals, sometimes offered gifts, strongly encouraging them all to make the choices leading to passage of the amendment. At one point, the proposed amendment passed the Senate but failed in the House. In January 1865, it became crunch time. With much drama and anticipation-the joint resolution was passed- Yeas 119 and Nays 56. Victory was the result that day only by 3 men voting “Yea.” It was then sent to the states for ratification. It became law in late 1865. Lincoln had been the prime-mover of the amendment but did not live long enough to see it finally ratified.Mail this post