Lincoln Landmark & Landmark Decision - The Thirteenth Amendment, Jan 31, 1865

Lincoln had always felt that slavery was wrong. The Constitution had allowed for it but the Declaration of Independence had preceded with ‘all men are created equal.’ The Emancipation Proclamation was as temporary as the war. This Amendment would change the Constitution, and eventually lead to change all the people of these United States.

Section 1  Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


Lincoln, reflecting his speech in third person, delivered these thoughts to well-wishers on the appropriateness of the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery, as a fitting conclusion to the imminent end of the war between the states.

2/1/1865  The President said he supposed the passage through Congress of the Constitutional amendment for the abolishment of Slavery throughout the United States, was the occasion to which he was indebted for the honor of this call…He thought this measure was a very fitting if not an indispensable adjunct to the winding up of this great difficulty. He wished the reunion of all the States perfected and so effected as to remove all causes of disturbance in the future; and to attain this end it was necessary that the original disturbing cause should, if possible, be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate Slavery by issuing an emancipation proclamation. But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be wan fully consummated. A question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be added that it only aided those who came into our lines and that it was inoperative as to those who did not give themselves up, or that it would have no effect upon the children of the slaves born hereafter. In fact it would be urged that it did not meet the evil. But this amendment is a King’s cure for all the evils.


It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat that it was the fitting if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present, himself, the country and the whole world upon this great moral victory.  FT 219