[LINCOLN, Abraham]. THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT. Joint Resolution of the Thirty Eighth Congress...proposing an Amendment to the Constitution...Abolishing Slavery. Resolved.... With engraved signatures of president Lincoln, Vice President H. Hamlin, Schuyler Colfax and J.W. Forney (Speaker and Secretary of the Senate) and 164 Senators and Congressmen. Chicago: Western Bank Note & Engraving Co., copyright 1868.
Large folio (22 1/8 x 16½ in.) finely engraved and printed on good quality paper. Elaborate decorative borders with "US" monogram at upper corners, bold calligraphic heading, the words "Abolishing Slavery" in prominent decorated letters; at top center, a slave family with child mourn over an oval portrait of Lincoln, the engraved signatures neatly disposed in four columns. IN VERY FINE CONDITION.
"NEITHER SLAVERY NOR INVOLUNTARY SERVITUDE SHALL EXIST WITHIN THE UNITED STATES..."
A highly decorated and very rare engraving based on the signed "souvenir" copies engrossed on parchment, a handful of which were signed by the President, the Senate and Members of Congress when the amendment was formally submitted for ratification in February 1865. The struggle for the permanent abolition of slavery evolved from the fervent plea of a small, vocal minority to become, through the Emancipation Proclamation, a crucial part of the President's military strategy. In the end, "it was the outcome of the war," James M. McPherson writes, "that transformed and expanded the concept of liberty to include abolition of slavery, and it was Lincoln who was the principal agent of this transformation" ("Lincoln and Liberty," in Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution, p.45). The abolition of slavery by Constitutional provision," Lincoln vowed, "settles the fate, for all coming time, not only of the millions now in bondage, but of unborn millions to come."
This Reconstruction-era engraving, a decorative tour-de-force by an important firm of engravers, contains no indication of the purpose for which it was intended. It was copyrighted by one D.R. Clark in 1868, and while we have not found a record of any auction appearance, copies are held by a number of institutions including the Smithsonian and the Chicago Historical Society. RARE.