Congress celebrates 13th Amendment

A Harper's Weekly cartoon depicts celebration in the House of Representatives after adoption of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.

This State Journal editorial ran on the front page Feb. 1, 1865:

Another shattering blow has been struck at the “cornerstone” of the rebellion.

On yesterday, the House of Representatives, by a more than two-thirds vote, passed the constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery forever within the limits of the United States.

We do not belong to that class who think the rebellion can be subdued by proclamations or by acts of Congress. We fully realize that all these are nothing without the strong hand and the unfaltering purpose: the national will operating in vigorous execution, clothed in the palpable terrors, and wielding the destroying thunderbolts of unpitying war.

However, there is just ground for rejoicing and exultation. Its passage by a more than two-thirds vote in Congress, where until of late slavery ruled with absolute sway, publishes to the world the great and radical change which has taken place in the sentiment of the American people. Whether it can be ratified by the requisite number of states or not, it will lead to results of incalculable importance.

It is not merely the anti-slavery party, it is not merely the Republican Party, it is not merely the Republicans and War Democrats united that have dealt this blow at that “old entanglement of iniquity,” the barbarous and infamous system of human servitude. Among those who voted for the amendment were men elected as partisan Democrats. Their action is most significant. It indicates that the last stronghold of slavery is beginning to give way; that the fragment of the Democratic Party which still remains is at length becoming penetrated.

Whenever harmony can be attained in the North upon this single subject, it will be worth more than the grandest victories won during the war by our armies in the field. ... Wisconsin may be counted on as certain to ratify the amendment, this great and crowning act of national purification and reorganization.

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