A New Birth of Freedom

“A new birth of freedom” – By the time Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address in November 1863, he had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation eleven months before, which freed “all persons held as slaves” in rebel territory (so, for example, not in the border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri). Lincoln justified the Proclamation as a war measure under his power as Commander-in-Chief to successfully defeat the Confederacy. The Proclamation declared, however, that those enslaved people were “then, thenceforward, and forever free,” not just during the rest of the war. To ensure that slavery would completely end and America would fully live up to its Founding principles and have a “new birth of freedom”, Lincoln pushed for the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery everywhere in the United States. The Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 while Lincoln was still President and ratified by the necessary states on December 6, 1865, almost eight months after Lincoln had been assassinated.