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February 2, 2012

Original copy of 13th Amendment at Lincoln Library & Museum

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A fully signed and recently restored copy of the Congressional resolution for a 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the official act that would abolish slavery in the United States, will be on display in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum’s Treasures Gallery. Wednesday was the 147th anniversary of its signing.

The vellum document, 20- by 16-inches, bears Abraham Lincoln’s original signature plus those of Vice President Hannibal Hamlin and 139 members of Congress who voted for the resolution.

Lincoln and the others had signed this and a few other commemorative copies on Feb. 1, 1865 after the House passed the resolution in a tight vote the night before.

The document was carefully restored free of charge by Graphic Conservation Company of Chicago and returned to Library and Museum officials in December.

There are 15 remaining original copies of the Resolution for a 13th Amendment signed by Lincoln.

Only eight of these also include the congressional signatures, including Illinois’ copy, and only three of these eight also have Lincoln’s note “Approved, February 1, 1865” on it. Moreover, the Illinois copy is unique in having the signatures in four columns instead of five, making them a little easier to read and suggesting that this was the first one made.

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