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“Scene in the House on the Passage of the Proposition to Amend the Constitution,” Harper’s Weekly, January 31, 1865

There was celebration in the House of Representatives when the proposal for the Thirteenth Amendment passed on January 31, 1865. Having passed the Senate on April 8, 1864, it was promptly sent to the states for ratification.

 

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

“Scene in the House on the Passage of the Proposition to Amend the Constitution,” Harper’s Weekly, January 31, 1865

Petitioning for the Thirteenth Amendment

The Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, was the first amendment brought about by a public campaign. Antislavery petitions, such as the one the Women’s Loyal National League submitted to Congress in 1864 with 100,000 signatures, were instrumental. Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts presented that petition to Congress with a speech, “The Prayer of One Hundred Thousand,” which was published to solicit even more signatures.  The Thirteenth Amendment passed both houses of Congress, and the states ratified it in December 1865.

The Undersigned,…earnestly pray that your Honorable Body will pass, at the earliest practicable day, an Act emancipating all persons of African descent held to involuntary service or labor in the United States

Women’s Emancipation Petition, 1864