The president and his fellow Republicans knew that the Emancipation Proclamation might be viewed as a temporary war measure and not outlaw slavery once the Civil War ended, so they focused on passing a constitutional amendment that would do so. The 13th Amendment was passed by the U.S. Senate (which was dominated by Republicans) on April 8, 1864. However, the amendment died in the U.S. House of Representatives as Democrats rallied in the name of states’ rights.
The presidential election of 1864 brought Lincoln back to the White Housealong withRepublican majorities in both legislative bodies. On January 31, 1865, the amendment passed in the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 119 to 56, seven votes above the necessary two-thirds majority. Several Democrats abstained, but the 13th Amendment was sent to the states for ratification, which came on December 6, 1865. With the passage of the amendment, the “peculiar institution” that had indelibly shaped American history was eradicated.
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