Illinois and the Thirteenth Amendment – by Daniel Sheridan
#OTD, January 31, 1865, Americans made amends when Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment. The words of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal,” are consistently applied.
I was sharing with my daughter the story of the Thirteenth Amendment since our home state played such a significant role in its passage.
Illinois instructed its Congressional delegation to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment. President Abraham Lincoln signed it on February 1, and then it 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.”
Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull, a co-author of the amendment, telegraphed Illinois Governor Richard J. Oglesby moments after President Lincoln signed it, earnestly encouraging the legislature of the President’s home state to be the first to ratify. Lyman’s reason:
“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 During that same session, the legislature repealed the horrible “Black Laws,” which had been in force since the state’s birth.
The Thirteenth 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…”