A House No Longer Divided
Lincoln knew that the Emancipation Proclamation, signed January 1, 1863, did not legally free all slaves forever, so he began working to establish an amendment guaranteeing a permanent end to slavery. After the House initially rejected the amendment in 1864, Lincoln pressed that the amendment be added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming presidential election.
Lincoln liked to take no chances so naturally began employing his persuasive talents to ensure that favorable votes would be cast for the next House vote on the amendment. Further, he granted statehood to the pro-Union, strongly Republican Nevada territory on October 31, even though other territories had much stronger populations and more viable economies. Not only did Lincoln carry the state in the presidential election eight days later, but Nevada became one of the required 27 states to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment.
As an interesting historical footnote, abolition of slavery wasnít the first proposed Thirteenth Amendment. The first, passed in 1810, would have revoked the citizenship of anyone either accepting a foreign title of nobility or accepting any foreign payment without Congressional authorization. Then, in February 1861, with President Buchanan still at the helm, the Corwin Amendment, forbidding any constitutional amendment from interferring with slavery, was approved by Congress and ratified by two states. This was a last-minute attempt to patch the leaky boat, as several states had already seceeded and the nation was on the brink of war. It seems odd to try to pass an amendment to stop another amendment from being passed. Many agreed, apparently, because the amendment received only the bare minimum number of votes to squeak through. Obviously, neither of these amendments were ratified by the required three-fourths of the states.