Saturday, January 31, 2015

150 Years Ago Today: The death knell of slavery

On this date in 1865 the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America passed the House of Representatives and was sent to the states where it was swiftly ratified. The Senate had already passed the amendment and there was little doubt that the states (those still in the Union or under Federal military occupation) would ratify it. Only in the House of Representatives was there any doubt, and the battle was fierce with most Democrats strongly opposed.

With the Republican Party having put support for an abolition amendment into its platform in the 1864 general election there was strong GOP support. Most Democrats, especially rebel sympathizers nicknamed  "copperheads," resisted the amendment employing a variety of arguments including deference to State's Rights and Federalism as well as more dramatic rhetoric designed to play on popular fear and prejudice. It was, many warned, the beginning of a revolution that would only end with Negro citizenship, Negro votes and miscegenation. In the end a handful of Northern Democrats saw the writing on the wall and moved to support the amendment. Other votes were procured via backroom deals, political arm twisting and in a few cases, outright bribery. 

Amendment XIII
Section 1. 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.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1 comment:

maximus said...

As a descendant of those slaves, all I can say is: "thank God!"