Tag Archives: Library of Congress

February: Heritage Month


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February is African American History Month

 

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

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Black History~ Beyond The Emancipation Proclamation — The 13th Amendment a journey in American History …from Lonnie Bunch,musem director,historian,author,lecturer


a repost from 2010  
National Museum of African American History and Culture Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page From Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.

A Page From Our American Story

13th Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States

13th Amendment to US Constitution
Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting

13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress)
The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837-1897.
Section 1: Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2:

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

William Seward
William Seward
(19th century photograph)

On December 18, 1865, 145 years ago, Secretary of State William Seward announced to the world that the United States had constitutionally abolished slavery — the 13th Amendment had been ratified.

The ratification of the 13th Amendment, the first of the Reconstruction Amendments, was truly the beginning of the end of one our nation’s ugliest and saddest eras. Historically, however, it has always been overshadowed by President Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.”

While Lincoln’s initial pronouncement to his Cabinet on September 22, 1862, formally tied slavery to the Civil War, he repeatedly stated that preserving the Union was his primary objective — not ending slavery.

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States of America
Abraham Lincoln,
16th President of the
United States of America.
Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs
online catalog
.

In essence, Lincoln’s proclamation — officially signed and issued on January 1, 1863 — freed only slaves in Confederate states where he and the Union Army could not force the issue, but allowed slavery to continue in states where the Union could impose its will.

The Emancipation Proclamation was a work of political irony. Lincoln understood slavery was wrong, but did not want to anger the border states that had remained supportive of the Union.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation served as a catalyst for abolitionists in Congress to start working in earnest to end slavery in every state.

It began on December 14, 1863, when House Republican James Ashley of Ohio introduced an amendment to ban slavery throughout the United States. Later that month, James Wilson of Iowa introduced another amendment calling for an end to slavery.

Less than a month later, on January 11, 1864, Missouri Senator John Henderson, a member of the War Democrats — Democrats who supported the Civil War and opposed the Copperheads and Peace Democrats — submitted a joint resolution also wanting an amendment to end slavery.

Now, as civil war ravaged the nation, the legislative battle on Capitol Hill to end the injustice of slavery and treat African Americans as equal citizens was launched on two fronts — the House of Representatives and the US Senate.

On February 10, 1864, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed and brought the 13th Amendment to the full Senate. While in the House, one week after the Senate was moving ahead, Representatives took their first vote on the measure. The House vote well short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass, and it was clear the anti-slavery supporters in the House were in for a long struggle.

On the other hand, the Senate moved quickly. Senators wasted little time following the Judiciary Committee’s recommendation for passage. On April 8, 1864, the amendment was overwhelmingly passed, 38-6, eight votes more than constitutionally required.

Four months after the first House vote, in June, 1864, the House tried for a second time to pass the amendment. The vote was closer, but again the abolitionists failed to get the two-thirds majority they needed for passage.

Nicolay telegram announcing passage of 13th Amendment
John G. Nicolay to Abraham Lincoln,
Tuesday, January 31, 1865
(Telegram reporting passage of 13th Amendment
by Congress). The Abraham Lincoln Papers
at the Library of Congress. Series 1.
General Correspondence. 1833-1916.

The year drew to a close with Lincoln’s reelection. Yet the House had failed to produce a bill abolishing slavery. Lincoln’s patience with the House was reaching its end. At the same time, abolitionists declared his reelection as a mandate from the people to end slavery. More pressure was brought to bear on the hold-outs in the House to pass the bill.

At last, on January 31, 1865, the House passed the 13th Amendment. Though not needed, as a symbolic gesture of approval, President Lincoln signed the document and then sent it to the states for ratification.

Initially, ratification seemed a given. By the end of March, 19 states had voted for the amendment. Then the process bogged down, and by April 14, 1865, the date President Lincoln was assassinated, only 21 states were on board.

Suddenly, Vice President Andrew Johnson, himself a War Democrat from Tennessee, was in the White House. Johnson was staunchly pro-Union, but he was less passionate about ending slavery. At this point the question was how much support would he provide toward speeding the end of slavery? Abolitionists were relieved when Johnson used his power as the Chief Executive to force Southern states to ratify the amendment as part of his Reconstruction policy.

On December 6, 1865, nearly twelve months after President Lincoln had ceremoniously signed the document, Georgia became the 27th state to ratify the 13th Amendment. The three-quarters of the states needed to make the amendment law had finally been reached, and shortly afterward Seward made his historic announcement.

Sadly, life for Black Americans did not meet the promise of freedom. Southern states adopted “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow laws” — rules and restrictions that by-passed constitutional requirements — and continued to treat African Americans as second class citizens.

The tumult and grassroots uprising that eventually spawned such famous legislation as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a subject all its own. Today, however, let us remember the tremendous stride that America took 145 years ago with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Together with the 14th Amendment that afforded African Americans citizenship, due process, and equal rights under the law and the 15th Amendment that gave African Americans the right to vote, a constitutional backbone was provided for what would become one of America’s greatest revolutions — the Civil Rights Movement.

Lonnie Bunch, Director All the best,
Lonnie Bunch
Director

President’​s Visit to Africa


The Best Photos from the President’s Visit to Africa

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as daughters Sasha and Malia, just returned from their June 26 – July 3 visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. And our photographers have chosen some of their favorite photos from the trip — capturing some incredible behind-the-scenes moments.

Click here to view a photo recap of the First Family’s trip.

The First Lady, along with daughters Malia and Sasha, joined President Obama’s official visit to Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania on June 26–July 2. During the trip, the First Lady met with young people and highlighted the power of education.

We’re Listening to Businesses about the Health Care Law

As we implement the Affordable Care Act, we have and will continue to make changes as needed. In our ongoing discussions with businesses we have heard that you need the time to get this right. We are listening. So in response to your concerns, we are cutting red tape and giving businesses more time to comply

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Honoring Carole King at the White House

Earlier this year, legendary singer and songwriter Carole King was honored at the White House as the recipient of the 2013 Gershwin Prize for Popular song. King is the first woman to receive the award, which was created in 2007 by the Library of Congress to recognize “the profound and positive effect of popular music on the world’s culture”.

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Powering Africa

Nearly 70 percent of Africans lack access to electricity, and yesterday, President Obama visited the Ubungo Symbion Power Plant in Dar es Salaam to highlight a new initiative called Power Africa, which aims to double the number of people across the continent who have access to power.

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CONGRESS


English: The western front of the United State...
English: The western front of the United States Capitol. The Neoclassical style building is located in Washington, D.C., on top of Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1960. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Senate will meet in pro forma sessions only with no business conducted on the following dates at the following times:

–          Friday, April 26th at 11:30am,

–          Tuesday, April 30th at 10:00am, and

–          Thursday, May 3rd at 2:00pm.

  • The Senate will convene at 2:00pm on Monday, May 6, 2013.
  • Following any Leader remarks, the Senate will be in morning business until 5:30pm with Senators permitted to speak therein for up to 10 minutes each.
  • At 5:30pm, the Senate will resume consideration of S.743, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, post-cloture. The filing deadline for 2nd degree amendments to S.743 is 4:00pm.
  • At 5:30pm, all post-cloture time will be yielded back, the Durbin amendment #745 will be withdrawn, no other 2nd degree amendments will be in order and the Senate will proceed to 2 roll call votes in relation to the following:
  • Upon the disposition of S.743, there will be a 3rd roll call vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S.601, the Water Resources Development Act of 2013.

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The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on May 3, 2013.

The next meeting is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on May 6, 2013 for Morning Hour Debate.

CONGRESS


Capitol Building
Capitol Building (Photo credit: andrewmalone)

The Senate will meet in pro forma sessions only with no business conducted on the following dates at the following times:

–          Friday, April 26th at 11:30am,

–          Tuesday, April 30th at 10:00am, and

–          Thursday, May 3rd at 2:00pm.

Senate Reconvenes
Schedule for Monday, May 6, 2013

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 The next meeting is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on April 30, 2013.