When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, he realized that his executive decree was vulnerable to constitutional challenge in the courts. Moreover, in practical terms, his historic proclamation was only enforceable by the continual presence of federal troops throughout the South. A constitutional amendment outlawing slavery was needed. In his reelection bid of 1864, Lincoln risked his political survival and his place in history for this cause. "Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish," he vowed, "I give my heart and hand to this measure."
On January 31, 1865, just two years after the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, Congress passed the Thirteenth Amendment, banning slavery. This composite picture depicts the members of Lincoln's administration and members of Congress who supported the amendment.