40. Telegram from Senator Trumbull to Governor Oglesby on the 13th Amendment (1865)
Background: In 1864, U. S. Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois co-authored and sponsored the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery. The Senate passed the proposed amendment on April 8, 1864 but it languished in the U. S. House. In his fourth Annual Message to Congress on December 6, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln urged the House to pass the amendment and send it to the states for ratification. The House took up the proposal the following month and on January 31, 1865 it approved sending the amendment to the states by a vote of 119 to 56.
The Document: Upon the House's passage of the 13th Amendment on January 31, 1865, Senator Trumbull telegraphed Governor Richard J. Oglesby, notifying him that the House had voted to send the 13th Amendment to the states for ratification. Trumbull urged the governor to make sure Illinois became the first state to ratify the amendment. The very next day, on February 1, 1865, both the Illinois House and Senate approved a joint resolution to ratify the amendment. Governor Oglesby immediately signed the resolution and Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment. That night, in remarks from the White House balcony, President Lincoln proudly announced that Illinois had already ratified the amendment and urged the other states to follow suit.
Note: On December 6, 1865, the 13th Amendment became a part of the U. S. Constitution when Georgia became the 27th state to vote for ratification. This telegram from Senator Trumbull is available at the Illinois State Archives as part of Secretary of State Record Series 103.062, "Executive Section. Executive Files."