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Ceremonial Copy of the Thirteenth Amendment, 1864-1865

A measure of the importance placed on the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlawed slavery, is this ceremonial copy signed by its supporters. Members of Congress signed this copy after the bill passed in their respective houses. Although the president was not required to sign the amendment, Lincoln added his signature on February 1, 1865. He did not live to see it become law.

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Ceremonial Copy of the Thirteenth Amendment

Abolishing Slavery - 2

The issue of slavery was not directly addressed by the authors of the Constitution, but quickly proved to be the most divisive one Congress faced. Petitions against slavery were received as early as the First Congress. As settlers moved west, the question of slavery in the territories periodically dominated Congressional debate. At the close of the Civil War, Congress passed an amendment to abolish slavery, which was quickly ratified by the states.