February 1, 1865 — Today is National Freedom Day, which celebrates the signing of a resolution that proposed the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which outlaws slavery.
It declares: “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 place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Congress passed it on Jan. 31, 1865, it was ratified by the following December.
Maj. Richard Robert Wright, Sr., a former slave who founded the National Freedom Day Association, played a crucial role in creating the observance. A community leader in Philadelphia, Wright hoped to see a day that would be dedicated to celebrating freedom for all Americans.
Words of Wisdom
"On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that 'all men are created equal' a self-evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim 'a self-evident lie.'"