National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day

By Josephine Smith

The issue of slavery was one that had ravaged the newly born nation of America since her founding. With the Civil War ending, the Lincoln administration would put the final nail in the coffin for this practice which had caused so much turmoil in his country. 

Drafted by William Seward who proposed the amendment to Lincoln in December of 1864. On January 31st, the amendment was passed through Congress, the votes counting 119 to 56. The next day it was ratified and thus the thirteenth amendment was added, and the freedom of enslaved Americans began. Though some did not take too kindly to this amendment, for many it was an answer to prayer.   


Amendment 13 

Section 1      

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any places subject to their jurisdiction.  

Section 2 

Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. 


In 1941, Richard Robert Wright Senior proposed the celebration of February 1st as a day to remember the abolition of slavery in America. He got his wish in 1942 when National Freedom Day was celebrated for the first time in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It wasn’t until 1948 that President Harry Truman made the day a national holiday in America which we still celebrate to this day. 

This day is one on which we can remember more than just politicians gathering to abolish slavery. We need to remember the lives that were freed that day, the individuals that had a chance for a fresh start at life. We can remember the foundations of freedom which was laid by the founders of our nation. We can remember the soldiers of the Civil War who died so that this freedom could be added to our constitution. We can remember the men and women of our modern-day service who give their lives to allow freedom to ring bold from coast to coast, mountain to mountain, and valley to valley.


  • 1864

  • December – William Steward proposes the 13th amendment.

  • January

  • 31st – 13th Amendment is passed through Congress.

  • February

  • 1st – 13th Amendment is ratified.

  • 1942

  • Freedom Day is celebrated for the first time in Pennsylvania.

  • 1948

  • Freedom Day is made a national holiday.