Skip to comments.Lincoln and the 'Ghost Amendment'
Posted on 10/25/2006 6:33:20 AM PDT by 300magnum
In the delicate days before the Civil War, Congress proposed a 13th amendment that would have prohibited Washington from interfering with slavery in states where it existed.
It was one of many last-ditch efforts to avert war and stem the tide of southern states seceding.
The amendment, known as the "ghost amendment," was signed by President James Buchanan and left for the new president, Abraham Lincoln, to send to governors for their legislatures to ratify.
Lincoln dutifully did so, sending North Carolina's copy to Gov. John Ellis with a cover letter that didn't endorse or oppose the constitutional amendment.
Last week, 145 years later, editors of Lincoln's papers discovered it among Ellis' documents in the state archives in Raleigh.
It will be on display today at the archives, then will be placed into a vault with other important documents.
"We had two documents with Lincoln's signature, but were surprised and obviously delighted to discover we have a third," said Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of archives and history. "Lincoln doesn't say yea, or nay, but it is clearly a part of a larger effort to try to prevent civil war. He didn't make emancipation of the slaves a goal of the war until late 1862."
Crow calls the rare and valuable document the "evil twin" of the 13th amendment that abolished slavery in 1865.
But its intention was consistent with the Republican Party's platform of 1860 and what Lincoln said on the campaign trail, said Daniel Stowell, editor and director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Ill.
"Lincoln and the Republicans had no intention of interfering with slavery in states where it existed," Stowell said. "They wanted to prevent the spread of slavery into the new territories."
Needing three-quarters of the states to ratify, the proposed amendment was approved by only two states before the war began -- and it was forgotten.
It was likely pitched out by governors whose states had seceded.
Yet with North Carolina still considering secession, Ellis hung onto his.
Stowell and colleague Kelley Boston have spent two years scouring archives across the country for Lincoln's papers. They routinely go through the papers of governors.
Ellis' copy is the fifth they've found, with the signatures of Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.
Ellis was in his second term when the letter arrived. In February, N.C. voters had defeated a referendum for a secession convention.
But after Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in April, Ellis became known for one of the most famous quotes of the early Civil War.
After Lincoln called for two N.C. regiments to help throw down the rebellion, Ellis responded: "You can get no troops from North Carolina."
On May 20, the state seceded.
"This is certainly one of our most important documents, if just for Lincoln's signature," Crow said.
"And to think we didn't even know we had it. That was a big discovery."
Please see my post 13. I did not raise the question to debate slavery, rather people's changing views of morality. Remember, both of the two amendments were offered within a few short years.
The Democraps hae done an excellent job of convincing blacks that the Republicans are the "Anti Black"/ RACIST party!
Huh? How about illegal tariffs instead. Slavery was a minor issue compared to what else was going on. Apparently you got the washed version of history along the way. It's about the money, it's always about the money.
Again, over slavery? It's the economics. It's the money!!! If California secedes due to a moral issue it will be nothing like the issues in the Civil War. Although slavery was an issue it was minor.
Lincoln knew that if four million slaves were released, they could then be able to help the progress in the North.
Booth wanted to kill Lincoln when Lincoln advocated going one step further after the war and proposed giving the slaves the right to vote.
Lincoln's proprosals progressed as his own views changed.
Inadvertently. As the article states, Lincoln had no intention of interfering with slavery (or the economics) of the states where it then existed. He, and a majority of the nation in 1860, simply opposed the extension of slavery into the then rapidly developing western territories. They opposed it for various reasons ranging from moral to completely self interested.
It is likely that Lincoln did not fully understand that blocking expansion of slavery was indeed an serious threat to the Southern "economy." Contrary to conventional wisdom that Cotton was the source of wealth for the south, the actual wealth was really embodied in the value of slave property. That slave property (4 million by 1860) had a total value greater than all of the land and equipment in the South. Slaves were a resource that could be bought, sold, speculated on, or used as collateral. And they reproduced at a much faster rate than the white population of the south, making owners wealthier with every birth. The slave population of the south doubled in size every 25 years.
Slave wealth was secure only as long as the demand for slaves continued to rise. If the demand ever slowed, or supply overwhelmed demand, the value of all slaves would rapidly collapse and along with it, the Southern economy.
For that reason, the South had a vested interest in opening new lands and markets for slaves. If unable to do so, they faced economic ruin, and few outside the handful of major slave owners who forced secession understood that simple fact.
I see no evidence in the records of freed blacks heading north to "help" in any way in the decades after the Civil War. The North had an abudance or labor available due to immigration from Europe. It was not until WWI when immigration all but shut down when sizable numbers of blacks moved north for factory jobs, a trend that grew even greater during WWII.
I disagree. The South had enough wealth to survive with the trading partners outside the US. It was the North that decided they were losing money to these trading partners and the South should be exclusively trading with them. Slavery was a minor issue.
First, you confuse income with wealth. The two are not the same.
Trade with Europe (and the North) was a source of income for the Cotton states, but it was not a source of wealth. Cotton was a cash crop and income in any given year could and did fluctuate wildly based on crop yields and the market price for cotton. In most years, the South was cash poor which is why they relied on New York and London banks to see them through the next planting season. But that was not a problem since they had wealth.
The main store of wealth to use a collateral was in the form of slaves --- more than the value of all the land holdings and machinery in the South combined. There are numerous, heartbreaking stories of families being broken apart when plantation owners who had to sell their slaves to pay off debt. But they could do it because for a 40 year period from 1820 to 1860, the value of slaves continually rose as the market for slaves grew in the Gulf Coast states. By 1860, King Cotton had just about reached it's geographical limits in the US, yet the slave population continued to grow --- basically doubling every generation. Without new markets for slaves, they would soon be facing an oversupply slave labor causing the market for slaves to collapse and also a potentially dangerous social problem of the southern white population being hopelessly outnumbered throughout the cotton belt. They needed new markets for slaves or they faced eventual ruin.
As to somehow the North losing money because the South traded with Europe, can you please explain how? I simply don't see the connection. The North was doing quite well with a mostly internal market in the decades before the war. Railroad growth in the North was spectacular allowing Midwestern crops low cost access to the big cities of the East. Industrialization was beginning in earnest (which is why states like Pennsylvania favored protective tariffs.) Population was growing far faster than the white population of the south and immigrants easily supplied the additional labor necessary for growth. But through it all, nothing that I am aware of that the South was doing hurt or stifled the Northern economy. The South was in fact a good market for both Northern manufactured goods and Midwestern crops in addition to being serious debtors to the big banks of the East. I can't see why the North would have gained any advantage in harming the Southern economy. If you know of something, please explain.
What's illegal about the tariff?
Slavery was a minor issue compared to what else was going on.
And yet it was pretty much the only issue that the Declarations of Causes issued by the seceding states talked about. Hardly a mention of tariffs among them, but lots of talk about slavery. And when South Carolina issued its appeal to the other southern states to join them in secession, it wasn't addressed to the tariff-affected states, but to the "slaveholding states."
Frankly, just general study of the conditions that lead to the Civil War. I am a "buff" of sorts, but unlike many who study the battles and tactics, I have been more interested in the political, social and economic issues that lead the nation to civil war.
I can document each of my points but it would be weeks of study for you to understand the demographics and economic drivers of the sections.
If your care, I can start sending you links.
If there is anything the the Democrat party has excelled at, it is in playing the race card. From the 1840s until the 1960s they dealt the race card from one side of the deck, but once black Americans finally won the right to vote in every state, the Democrats moved seamlessly to dealing the race card from the other side of the deck. Their PR division in the MSM never noted the change.
But from a moral standpoint, what they do today is no different than the politics used by John C. Calhoon and Jefferson Davis.
But what Lincoln accomplished was an end to slavery. Quite an accomplishment indeed.
The statement that Buchanan "signed" the Ghost Amendment is news to me. However, Lincoln did in fact "sign" the actual 13th Amendment abolishing slavery even though the Constitution did not require it and he had no business "signing" it.
Me too. I don't know that it is wrong, but that "original" 13th was nothing but a Hail Mary pass trying to avert war. It never had a chance of ratification mostly because the political leaders of the Deep South were intent on secession and had been since the early 1850s. Their was no chance of compromise with them.
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