Why Is the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution Important?

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The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution is important because it abolished slavery in all American states. The amendment was passed by the Senate on April 18, 1864, and by the House of Representatives on January 21, 1865. It was ratified on December 6, 1865.

During the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln became convinced that the abolition of slavery was not only morally correct, but also an effective military strategy. He framed a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, declaring that all slaves in fighting states are forever free. Although the proclamation did not free a single slave, it became a decisive moment in the war.

The 13th Amendment was drafted to further the cause of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln realized that he lacked the legal authority to independently quash the institution of slavery in the U.S. President Lincoln and his fellow Republicans feared that the proclamation might only be taken as a short-term war measure and not abolish slavery at the conclusion of the Civil War. Lincoln used all of his political influence and skill in campaigning for the passage of the bill, convincing the democrats to support the amendment. His efforts finally paid off when the bill garnered a vote of 119-56 in the House of Representatives on January 21, 1865 and was ratified into law on December 6, 1865.