13th Amendment: Review Background Information

I issue the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 using my war powers as commander-in-chief. I believe that freeing the slaves will help win the war, and that the Constitution gives me all the authority I need to issue that order. I also believe that once enslaved people taste freedom they can never be made slaves again, but what about the courts and Congress? When the war is over, will they see it that way? Might they overturn my emancipation policy, saying it was merely a wartime measure that now lacks legal force? What should I do?

Name of Person 1

Name of Person 1

Rely on the States

The Northern public remains bitterly divided over emancipation, but there has been some progress. Maryland and Missouri are rewriting their state constitutions to abolish slavery. Loyal Border States that have refused to do so - such as Kentucky and Delaware - might yet follow suit. Best not to push too hard for a federal emancipation amendment and risk jeopardizing all this momentum for change.

Support an Amendment

I can no longer leave the abolition of slavery to the states. Although the Constitution hasn’t been amended in 60 years and despite the ongoing war, the only just solution is to add an emancipation amendment to the Constitution that will abolish slavery everywhere and forever in the United States.

Those are my choices: Continue to press the states for legislation securing emancipation, or move for adoption of a constitutional amendment to protect the Emancipation Proclamation from legal challenges after the war. What should I do?