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Women's Emancipation Petition, Women of Kansas, 1864

Congress ended slavery in the District of Columbia in 1862, and the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed slaves in Confederate-held areas. The Women’s Loyal National League formed to advocate for the end of slavery throughout the United States. Petitions like this one from Kansas, containing 100,000 signatures, pressed Congress on the issue.

 

Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration

Women's Emancipation Petition, Women of Kansas, 1864

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