On This Date in History: Many people mistakenly think that the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the United States. It did not. The presidential proclamation was announced on September 22, 1862 following the Battle of Antietam. President Lincoln was a very astute politician and knew, at the outset of the Civil War, that he could not get support for the war in the North if he said that his goal was to abolish slavery. He campaigned on a platform of limiting the “peculiar institution” to the states that already allowed it and preventing its inclusion in any new states that were formed in the western territories. In this way, he knew that the system would “whither on the vine” as it would be impossible for it to continue in just a handful of states. The slavocracy knew this as well and was the reason why they were willing to secede and go to war, if necessary, with Lincoln’s election. Lincoln’s war aims were to preserve the Union.
Old Abe was a pretty smart guy because he knew, using his power as Commander In Chief under Article II section 2 of the Constitution, he could eradicate slavery in the rebellious states as a war measure by saying that since slavery was so prevalent in the Southern economy that it was aiding in the Confederacy’s ability to make war. But, the early stages of the war didn’t go well for the Union and he felt that he needed to wait for a decisive Union victory before he could make such a proclamation or the public might think it was a desperate, rather than necessary, measure. While Antietam wasn’t a decisive victory on September 17, 1862, Lincoln figured he better take what he could get because there was no telling when another battle could at least in some way be construed as a Union Victory. Five days following the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln announced his intention to execute his Executive Order on January 1, 1863. In this way, it would not be a surprise to anyone.
While the slaves in the rebellious states were declared free, that left the states that remained in the Union that allowed slavery. But, the stage had been set for the ultimate destruction of slavery. It would be unthinkable to free the slaves for the war and then enslave them again after the war. But, that required a constitutional amendment. The US Senate easily passed the amendment in April 1864 but the House was being stubborn and after pressure from Lincoln and the Radical Republicans, enough Congressmen were convinced it was in their best interest to vote for passage of the 13th Amendment that it was adopted by the House on January 31, 1865.
From there it went on to the states for ratification and became the law of the land on December 6 1865. But, when it went to the state legislatures it had a little something extra…a little lagniappe as they say in Cajun Country. On This Date in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln for some reason affixed his signature to the amendment next to the word “approved” and the date, February 1, 1865. What is wrong with this picture? What’s wrong is that the Constitution does to ask for nor require a presidential signature nor approval for amendments. Article V merely says that, if Congress wishes to propose and amendment, that 2/3 of both houses of Congress must pass the amendment and then 3/4 of the state legislatures must follow suit. If presidential approval was needed, then conceivably a president might stand in the way of the will of the people and that’s not good. It’s unclear why Lincoln chose to approve the amendment except for perhaps the political purpose of making it clear that he fully approved and, since he had just won re-election, that might help persuade legislatures to approve the amendment. So, Lincoln never lived to see the slavery ended, but he had to have known with the Union victory, that goal had been fulfilled.
Oh, by the way…all the states eventually ratified the 13th Amendment. Georgia’s ratification on December 6, 1865 secured the 3/4 states needed. But, Oregon, California and Florida all got it done later in the month and Iowa and New Jersey both did so in January 1866, after New Jersey had rejected it in March of the previous year. Think that is a surprise…New Jersey first rejected the amendment that ended slavery? Well, they aren’t the only Union state to reject the 13th amendment. Delaware and and Kentucky both nixed the idea in February and March of 1865. Delaware decided to pass it in 1901. Former Confederate state Texas never rejected it but also didn’t get around to passing it until 1870.
What about Kentucky? Well, yes…Kentucky did pass the 13th Amendment…in 1976!! Not to be outdone, the Magnolia State of Mississippi refused to vote for the amendment on December 5, 1865 which, if it had, would have been the vote to put it over the top. No…Mississippi didn’t want that distinction. So, Mississippi waited and waited, until 1995! Abe didn’t have to sign it but did so over 130 years before Mississippi thought that, even though it didn’t have to pass it, it might be a good idea. Though, maybe not that good of an idea. Seems that the “Legislative Highlights” of the 1995 Mississippi legislature, prepared by the House information office considered it more of a low light as it was listed second to last on the list of accomplishments
Weather Bottom Line: Generally seasonally chilly conditions this week. The jetstream flow really doesn’t do anything too dramatic one way or the other. A little system on Tuesday scoots by to our north. It’s pretty tough for us to get any snow from a low passing north. Late in the week into next weekend, there is a some disagreement as a low comes about. Earlier model runs were showing an upper low back over our area after the parent low scoots by to our east, thus dragging down cold air and giving us a decent chance for some action. Saw a few inches being kicked out by the GFS earlier. Most public forecasts are cautious now and not going out on that limb. Several days out so we’ll have to see how it shakes out. Not really a slam dunk either way but I betcha we end up with a little something something for Saturday and the highs are colder than most public forecasts. But, we’ll see. NWS finally got around to putting out a snowfall graphic from this weekend so I attached it above. If you like it, call John Gordon at the NWS and tell him you like his artwork!