The debates on Capitol Hill in January 1865, when the end of the Civil War was imminent, were widely reported in the newspapers at the time. Though, judging by front page headlines, the country seemed more interested in rampant rumors that peace envoys were being dispatched northward by the Confederate government.
It doesn't spoil anyone's viewing of "Lincoln" to mention that when the bill forever abolishing slavery in America passed the House of Representatives on January 31, 1865, newspapers did trumpet the news. This week in Newspaper Sunday we take a look back at some of those stories.
- New York Tribune, February 1, 1865: "Freedom Triumphant" declared the headline of the New York Tribune, which had long opposed slavery.
- Cleveland Morning Leader, February 1, 1865: "Slavery Forever Abolished" and "Ten Thousand Cheers For Freedom" proclaimed the headlines in Ohio. A story noted that women celebrated in the House of Representatives gallery by waving handkerchiefs.
- Cleveland Morning Leader, February 2, 1865: A dispatch from Boston reported that the governor of Massachusetts had ordered the firing of cannons and the ringing of church bells to celebrate President Lincoln's signing of the bill.
- The Richmond Daily Dispatch, February 6, 1865: A front-page story in the Confederate capital mocked the passage of the bill, saying the "Yankees" had amended the Constitution "so that it will do what their armies cannot abolish slavery."
Note: After using the links to reach the article excerpts, you can click the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress.
Photograph: James Ashley, abolitionist and Congressman from Ohio who managed the January 1865 debates on the anti-slavery amendment/Library of Congress
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