On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. Despite his humble beginnings and lack of formal education, Lincoln distinguished himself as an honest leader and a powerful speaker. Leading the nation through the Civil War, our 16th President fought for unity and helped bring an end to slavery in our country. Modeled after the Parthenon in Greece (the birthplace of democracy), the Lincoln Memorial honors his legacy. It’s a towering icon on the Washington, D.C., landscape that attracts visitors from all over the world to be inspired by Lincoln’s words and accomplishments. Photo courtesy of Drew Geraci.
this day in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States
Constitution was ratified by the states, formally banning slavery in the United States. Ratification does not require unanimous approval, and some states rejected the amendment; Mississippi only ratified the 13th Amendment in 2013, 148 years after the
amendment’s passage. The 13th amendment marks the first of the three
so-called ‘Reconstruction’ amendments, which secured civil and voting
rights for African-Americans after the Civil War. The amendment was proposed by the
Lincoln administration following the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation -
which was a temporary war measure abolishing slavery in the
Confederacy - to assert that the ban on slavery was to be permanent.
Lincoln did not initially intend to free the slaves, and always prioritised
saving the Union, but emancipation became intriscially tied to Union victory. This was due
to the actions of slaves, who fled to Union lines and
tried to enlist in the army. The Reconstruction period that followed the
American Civil War was largely a contest over the implications of the
13th Amendment and the emancipation of four million slaves. Radicals in
Congress pushed for equality of the law and opportunity, while white Southerners, with assistance from
violent groups like the Ku Klux Klan, sought to maintain racial
subordination and white supremacy. Reconstruction ultimately failed to
truly implement freedom for African-Americans, and it was not until the
Civil Rights Movement one hundred years later that America again tried
to come to terms with the legacy of emancipation.