Adoption of the 13th AmendmentOn Feb. 1, 1865, Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which officially ended slavery and involuntary servitude. Ratifying the 13th Amendment was one of President Lincoln’s top priorities. Unfortunately, he was not alive to see the amendment become law. 

In order to propose a constitutional amendment, both the House and the Senate have to approve a resolution to amend the Constitution by a two-thirds majority. Then the proposal goes to the state legislatures to ratify. In order for an amendment to become law, three-fourths of the state legislatures must approve it.

The amendment was not formally adopted until Dec. 6, 1865, when Georgia became the 27th of 36 states to ratify the amendment. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865.

The amendment was drafted by Senator Lyman Trumbull, who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, in Alton. Senator Trumbull was an old friend of President Lincoln.

The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the CabinetThe 13th Amendment wasn’t the first step toward ending slavery. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing slaves across the South. The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order and was issued during the Civil War as a war measure to suppress rebellion in non-Union states. The 13th Amendment solidified freedom from slavery and indentured servitude once the Civil War ended.