Lincoln and the Total Abolition Of Slavery

An amendment to end slavery had stalled in Congress in 1864. Aware that as commander in chief he had issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a temporary wartime measure, Lincoln led the attempt to abolish slavery forever through constitutional amendment. In this fragment of his last Annual Message—the equivalent of the current State of the Union address—he forcefully urges upon Congress “the reconsideration and passage of the [Thirteenth Amendment] at the present session.” Lincoln’s political leadership was never more evident.