Slavery Abolished in the Territories

June 19, 1862 – The Republican Party upheld a campaign pledge to stop the expansion of slavery by banning the institution in U.S. territories.

President Abraham Lincoln | Image Credit:

President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill into law for present and future, which stated in part:

“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes…”

This law renounced the Supreme Court ruling in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) stating that Congress had no right to regulate slavery anywhere in the U.S. It also rejected the Democratic concept of “popular sovereignty,” under which the people of each territory had the right to decide for themselves whether to allow slavery. In effect, this law took the administration of territories from the states and placed it into the hands of the Federal government.

More importantly, the law paved the way toward ending slavery in the South, as some Republicans argued that those states, by seceding from the Union, no longer held statehood status but should instead be considered conquered territories that could be regulated by Congress.

In another step toward racial equality this month, Lincoln signed a bill into law formally recognizing the nations of Haiti and Liberia, and authorizing the president to appoint diplomatic envoys to those nations. This marked the first time the U.S. extended diplomatic recognition to predominantly black nations.



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