The Thirteenth Amendment and the Corwin Amendment

The Thirteenth Amendment and the Corwin Amendment

On December 6th, 1865 the thirteenth amendment to the US Constitution was ratified.  This amendment effectively made slavery in the United States of America illegal.  This applied to all states then including those who had been Confederate States, and any State that shall one day be added. It is interesting that the above referenced article on ratification says Kentucky ratified it in 1976; and, Mississippi did not ratify it until 1995 and did not certify the ratification until 2013.

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Prior to passage of this thirteenth amendment there was another amendment that was considered.  It is known as the Corwin Amendment.  The Corwin Amendment goal was to make it unconstitutional for Congress or the people to make slavery illegal in the United States.

The above referenced article on the Corwin Amendment say  was passed by the 38th Congress that began in December 1860.  During the 38th Congress the article says some 200 resolutions concerning slavery were submitted in an attempt to develop compromises to avert war with the South. One of these was the Corwin Amendment passed by Congress on March 2, 1861 for submission to the States for ratification.  The seven slave states who had already declared their secession seemingly did not vote on the resolution.

However, the amendment was not ratified by a sufficient number of states.  The amendment has never been “pulled” and is still in the ratification process. It is questionable whether its wording is still applicable since the 13th amendment was passed in December 1865.  Also the constitutionality of an amendment forbidding other amendments seems to go against the founders intent for the amendment process.

The above article states that out-going President James Buchanan  endorsed the Corwin Amendment by taking the unprecedented step of signing it. His signature on the Congressional joint resolution was unnecessary, as the President has no formal role in the constitutional amendment process.  Also in-coming President Abraham Lincoln in his inaugural address expressed support for the Corwin Amendment.



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