Lincoln and the 13th Amendment

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1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Oct 10, 2012
Mt. Jackson, Va
When the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789, it did not address the rights of the millions of slaves who lived in America.
During the 1800's slavery became a more and more divisive issue. Virtually the entire South and many Northern Democrats supported it. It was mostly the fledgling Republican Party that opposed it. When Mr. Lincoln won the 1860 election, the South ( most notably South Carolina and the Gulf States ) chose to secede from the Union rather than risk the potential loss of slavery. While Lincoln himself abhorred the institution of slavery, he knew he would have an uphill battle to pass an amendment ending the practice, even in 1861. Even with the loss of the Southern elected representatives, there was a large percentage of Northern Democrats who still supported slavery's existence. Also, a majority of Northern soldiers did not want to risk their lives for the freedom of the slaves, they had enlisted to preserve the Union.
So taking this into consideration, Lincoln made the primary purpose of the war to put down the rebellion and restore the Union. But he would wait for an opportunity to end slavery. After the Battle of Antietam, he saw his chance. He decided to make use of his war powers as president to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which promised freedom to slaves in the southern states. Even though the Emancipation was a big step towards ending slavery, an amendment was still required in order to guarantee it. Unfortunately, the first effort to pass the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery, suffered a defeat in the House of Representatives by a vote of 93 to 65. Only four democrats voted in favor of eliminating slavery.
Lincoln made use of his political skills and increased his efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed. He was able to reverse the vote of many reluctant democrats, and managed to sway enough votes that the Thirteenth Amendment succeeded in Congress the second time. It was passed in January, 1865 by a vote of 119-56 and sent to the states for ratification.
Now my friends this is where I'm going to throw you a curveball - Supposed Lincoln didn't intervene as rapidly as he did, or worse, had been assassinated prior to the passage of the 13th amendment, would slavery have remained in place at the war's end? Your thoughts.

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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!