Illinois and the 13th Amendment

Illinois and the 13th Amendment – by Daniel Sheridan (Twitter:@DanielWSheridan)

OTD, January 31, 1865, Americans make amends as Congress passes the 13th Amendment. The words of the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” is consistently applied.

I was sharing with my daughter the story of the Thirteenth Amendment since my home state played such a huge role in its passage.

Illinois instructed its Congressional delegation to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment, President Abraham Lincoln signed it on February 1st, and then the Amendment went to the States for ratification. The Amendment reads,

“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.”

Senator Lyman Trumbull from Illinois, who was a co-author of the amendment, telegraphed Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby moments after President Lincoln approved the Amendment earnestly encouraging the Legislature of the President’s home state to be the first to ratify. The did it that very day.

Oglesby, like Lincoln, was always opposed to slavery. He urged the legislature to ratify the Amendment saying,

“It is just, it is constitutional, it is right to do so.”

By the end of that February day, Illinois became the first State to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. During that same session the horrible “Black Laws,” which were in force since the state’s birth, were also repealed.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution became part of our Nation’s governing document on December 6, 1865. My little girl is proud of our home state and so am I. I know you are too.

“Not without thy wondrous story, Illinois, Illinois,
Can be writ the nation’s glory, Illinois, Illinois…”

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