And You Fought With the Union? – It Happened Today, February 8, 2017

Celebration erupts after the amendment is passed by the House of Representatives (Wikipedia) In 1865 the United States finally abolished slavery. It happened far too late and tragically it happened without abolishing bigotry or extending legal equality to the freed slaves and other blacks. Hatred is an amazingly, grimly persistent thing. As was underlined on February 8 of 1865.

Slavery was abolished according to the dictates of the United States Constitution, specifically through the 13th Amendment, passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864 and the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865. Obviously it could not be enforced through the South until the Civil War was officially ended by the Confederate surrender. But it also could not take effect until it was ratified by three quarters of the states following appropriate formal procedures.

Well, sort of. The Union having won the Civil War, it was in a position forcibly to impose governments on the defeated Southern states that did things genuinely elected governments would not do, like ratify the 13th Amendment. (Even, in many states, if those governments resulted from elections in which federal troops forced local whites to let their black neighbours vote.)

Thus Georgia became the crucial 27th state to ratify the Amendment in on December 6, 1865, putting it over the required three-quarters of the 36 states then in the Union including those that had rebelled in 1860-61. The rest subsequently tagged along, though Mississippi unsurprisingly didn’t get to it until March 1995 and "forgot" to send the required notification to the U.S. Archivist for another 18 years until Mississippi resident Ranjan Batra watched the movie Lincoln and started asking awkward questions. But here’s something even worse.

In Delaware, voters rejected the 13th Amendment on February 8, 1865. Yes, rejected it. In Delaware, a state whose inhabitants had voted against secession on January 3, 1861 and supplied 9 infantry regiments to the Union Army. Another Union state, New Jersey, also rejected it in March 1865 but relented in early 1866. But Delaware only ratified it in 1901.

Are you kidding me? Even after the Civil War, which you helped win, you voted to keep slavery? Sadly, it is so.

P.S. Kentucky, formally a Union state but with divided loyalties and dozens of units fighting on both sides in the war, said nay in 1865 and did not repent formally until 1976.