(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION THE ONLY WAY TO KILL SLAVERY.-
Everybody sees now that the true way to get rid of slavery is to amend the constitution
so as to abolish and prohibit it. All other expedients merely lop off some of
its branches, and leave the body and root of evil alive and ready for a new
growth. Strange that the country has groped about so long and so wildly before
reaching this simple conclusion. Reverdy Johnson of Maryland, stated the whole
case clearly and conclusively in his speech in the Senate for the amendment,
on Tuesday. he said:-
He entertained the same opinion of slavery now that he had from the time he
first studied the subject of human rights. In advocating this measure, he was
not departing from his earlier convictions, and would appeal to the constitution
itself in justification of the vote he should give for the measure. He would
not inquire whether slavery had produced the war or not. The war was upon us,
and slavery had produced mischief. Unless the measure before the Senate should
be adopted, there could be no permanent peace. Mr. Johnson at length proceeded
to controvert the idea that the abolition of slavery could be accomplished either
by direct legislation or by the exercise of the war power by the President.
He believe that the rebels still owed allegiance to the United States, and were
to be proceeded against the traitors under the constitution. Any other idea
would be monstrous. He believed that there were hundreds of thousands of citizens
in the insurrectionary districts who were just as devoted to the Union as any
member of this body; but they obeyed the de facto government as a power which
they could not resist, and so their obedience was no crime. He claimed that
the was power was in the hands of Congress, and the power of the President was
derived from his right as commander-in-chief. This being the case, no slave
could be manumitted by proclamation unless the proper physical force accompanied
it. We must get the slaves before we can manumit them. The President himself
uttered a great truth when he said his proclamation would be like the pope's
bull against the comet, in the districts unoccupied by our army. It is just
as idle for us to declare the slaves free in the States where our armies do
not march, as it would be to declare the rebel armies disbanded by proclamation.
If the war should terminate to-day, the slaves who come actually under our control,
would be slaves still. Mr. Johnson contended that the only practical way of
accomplishing that all Christian patriots desired, was by the adoption of the
present measure. He contended that the very preamble to the constitution, which
stated that its objects were to establish justice, insure tranquility, and promote
the general welfare, and that first of all that liberty might be preserved,
gave full warrant for the porposed amendment. Was there no justice in putting
an end to human slavery? Was slavery doing no injury to the tranquility of the
country? Was it not against the general welfare, and against all true ideas
of human liberty? In conclusion, he said our sole consideration should be to
bring this war to a successful close and secure the restoration of the Union.
He believe the Union would be restored, and we would have our National and State
governments without human bondage.
Contact us for information about using this image.
The 13th amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which abolished slavery, was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864. This account from the Greenfield, Massachusetts, Gazette and Courier newspaper reports on a speech in favor of the amendment made by Reverdy Johnson (1796-1876), a senators from Maryland. Mr. Johnson agreed that the Emancipation Proclamation, which was signed on January 1, 1863, did not have the power to free the slaves in the Confederate states and the only way to end slavery was to pass this amendment. The Gazette & Courier was the newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts, from July 20, 1841 until June 24, 1932. Before 1841 the newspaper's name changed quite frequently, with Gazette a frequent part of the title.
top of page
"Amendment of the Constitution the Only Way to Kill Slavery" article from Gazette and Courier newspaper
| publisher Greenfield Gazette and Courier
| date Apr 18, 1864
| location Greenfield, Massachusetts
| width 2.5"
| height 10.25"
| process/materials printed paper, ink
| item type Periodicals/Newspaper
| accession # #L05.135
Send an e-Postcard of this object