On This Day in Time, 150 years ago – December 18, 1865, Secretary of State William Seward proclaimed the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, officially abolishing slavery.
The Thirteenth Amendment had quite the journey, having first been passed by the U.S. Senate in April of 1864. Nearly a year later, the U.S. House of Representatives followed suit, voting the amendment through in late January of 1865. Following these votes, the amendment needed to be ratified by three-fourths of the 36 U.S states (including those who had only recently re-joined the Union following the Civil War). It took nearly another year for the Amendment to be ratified by the 27 states needed, which was accomplished by Georgia on December 6, 1865.
Upon review, Secretary of State Seward proclaimed the Amendment and it’s ratification valid, thus marking the official end to slavery in the United States of America.
A peculiar item of note, Kentucky and Mississippi took significantly longer to ratify the amendment than the rest of the 37 states which existed during this time. Kentucky voted to ratify the amendment in 1976 and Mississippi waited until 1995. However, due to some oversight in Mississippi, the vote was never sent to the official Federal Registrar, thus keeping the vote from becoming official.
This was fixed in February of 2013, over 148 years after it was introduced.