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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.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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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.


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"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
height   10.25"
width   2.5"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L05.135

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See Also...

"The News from Home. Greenfield Items" excerpt on the passage of the Constitution Amendment fr. the Gazette & Courier newspaper

"How the news of the Constitutional Amendment was received" article from the Gazette and Courier newspaper

Letter to George Fuller regarding the 13th Amendment

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