Thirteenth Amendment Ratified:
On December 6, the Thirteenth
Amendment, which abolished slavery, achieved the constitutionally required
ratification by three-quarters of the states (27 of 36). On December 18,
Secretary of State William Henry Seward declared it officially ratified and part
of the United States Constitution.
Southern Representation in Congress:
On December 2, the House
Republican Caucus agreed that Reconstruction was “the exclusive business of
Congress,” that President Johnson’s Reconstruction plan was subject to revision,
and that Southern congressmen should not be seated. On December 4, the House
clerk refused to seat representatives from the former Confederate states.
Joint Committee on Reconstruction:
On December 4, the first day of
the 39th Congress, Republican Congressman Thaddeus Stevens of
Pennsylvania introduced a resolution for the creation of a joint congressional
committee on Reconstruction composed of six senators and nine representatives.
The proposal was approved on December 13.
Origin of Section One:
On December 6, Republican Congressman John
Bingham of Ohio introduced a constitutional amendment to protect civil rights.
It was approved by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction on February 10, 1866,
but was then tabled in both the House and Senate. It later served as the basis
for Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Origin of Section Two:
Five resolutions were introduced in December
1865 and January 1866 for a constitutional amendment regarding the apportionment
of federal representation. The resolution submitted by Republican Congressman
James Blaine of Maine provided the foundation for a proposed constitutional
amendment approved on January 20 by the Joint Committee on Reconstruction. A
revised version passed the House on January 31, but failed to receive the
necessary two-thirds majority in the Senate on March 9. It was soon after
incorporated as Section Two of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Origin of Section Three:
In December 1865 and January 1866, several
congressional resolutions were introduced that imposed penalties on the former
Confederates. The proposals were referred to the Joint Committee on
Reconstruction. On April 28, the Joint Committee incorporated the proposal of
Republican Congressman George Boutwell of Massachusetts as Section Three of the
Fourteenth Amendment. It barred ex-Confederates from holding federal or state
office until Congress removed the political disability by a two-thirds majority
vote. A clause disfranchising ex-Confederates was removed before final passage
of the Amendment.
Origin of Section Four:
Based on a resolution introduced by
Democratic Congressman Samuel J. Randall of Pennsylvania on December 5, the
Joint Committee on Reconstruction drafted a proposed constitutional amendment
upholding the legitimacy of the federal debt and rejecting Confederate debt. It
passed the House on December 19 with large bipartisan support, but the Senate
took no action. It was later incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment as