Today in 1865, the legislature of Delaware refused to ratify the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution – which intended to end slavery and indentured servitude in all the states.
Some politicians within the state, namely James Bayard and his supporters, remained adversarial toward the union and the Lincoln administration throughout the course of the war. Openly sympathizing with the right of a state to leave the union, there was some talk of secession within the state, though geography and logistics precluded the possibility. Delaware permitted slavery during the entire course of the war, and Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the state.
Nonetheless, by the end of 1865 the amendment was ratified by the requisite number of states, including Reconstruction governments, on December 6.
The amendment’s affect in the state was much less tangible than in others. According to Delaware historian Alan Hornsby, the amendment’s enactment set only 900 people free within the state.
Delaware did not ratify the amendment until 1901.