The Superior Express -

Feb. 1st - National Freedom Day


January 30, 2020

National Freedom Day is not a national holiday but one of the many “observed” holidays in the United States. Holidays such as Ground Hog Day (Feb. 2) or Halloween (Oc. 31) are also “observed” holidays.

National Freedom Day observes the signing of the resolution that banned slavery in the United States. The resolution was the 13th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution. It would set millions of slaves free.

It was 155 years ago on Feb. 1, 1865, that President Abraham Lincoln signed the joint resolution of the United States House and Senate proposing the outlawing of slavery in the United States. The resolution paved the way for the ratification of the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery.

The road to the ratification of the amendment was not a short one. Slavery was an issue from the beginning of our country. There were slaves in all 13 of the colonies. However, during the years between 1777 and 1804, all Northern states had gradually or immediately eliminated slavery.

That was not the case in the South. By 1861, there were some 4 million slaves in the southern United States.

In both in 1818 and 1839 amendments were proposed to the U. S. Constitution to ban slavery. Neither effort gained the needed momentum. Throughout the years leading up to the Civil War, slavery was a near constant issue.

During the Civil War, on Sept. 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This proclamation, which went in to effect on Jan. 1, 1963, declared slaves free. But only those slaves in the rebelling states of the Confederacy.

It was not until April 8, 1864, the Senate of the United States passed a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery. The House of Representatives drug their feet until they too passed the measure on January 31, 1865.

With President Lincoln’s signature, the proposed amendment was sent to the states for ratification. It took until Dec. 6, 1865, for the necessary 27 of the then 36 states to ratify the amendment. Kansas ratified on Feb. 7, 1865, less than a week after the presidential signature.

William H. Seward, Secretary of State, certified the ratification of the 13th Amendment on Dec. 18, 1865. Slavery was illegal in the United States.

Interestingly, the 13th Amendment is the only amendment signed by a U. S. President. A presidential signature is not required on constitutional amendments. President Lincoln wrote “approved” and his signature under the required signatures of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate.

Sadly, President Lincoln did not live to see the ratification of the 13th Amendment. He was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 15, 1865.

In Philadelphia, Pa., National Freedom Day is observed by the laying of a wreath on the Liberty Bell.


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