The Corwin Amendment was the document issued by Thomas Corwin, the US governmental representative, in 1861, and its main objective was to prevent state residents from the abolition of slavery.


The ongoing debate over the position of slavery on a governmental level has been one of the most severe concerns in the context of the 19th century United States. In the early 1860s, the major power shift and the split of southern and northern ideologies became the main predeterminers of the future state collapse. Abraham Lincoln, then the elected President of the United States, realized that some crucial modifications in the state legislative system had to be made in order to guarantee peace across the country. However, such reformations were not possible due to the fact that both the Congress, the President, and the state residents believed the root of the problem lay in completely different issues.

The Corwin Amendment, also known as the Slavery Amendment, is proposed by Congress legal document, which implied the potential protection of the slavery regime across certain states. The amendment also had to serve as a lighting rod for any attempts of slavery abolition on the state territory, especially that of the southern regions. In the document introduced by the governmental representative Thomas Corwin, the notion of a slave was replaced by the euphemism, “a person held to labor or service.” The main problem behind the draft law was the fact that the vast majority of US residents who lived in the northern parts of the country, did not support the idea of forced labor. Hence, they did not consider the amendment relevant in terms of the country’s development.

The document itself was proposed when Lincoln’s predecessor, James Buchanan, was still in office. Unlike Abraham Lincoln, he did not have a reputation of a supporter of slavery abolishment, so such a proposal did not seem controversial for the general public. Lincoln, however, was primarily elected by the voters due to his strong anti-slavery views. Thus, he faced some issues concerning the agreement reached with the US residents who believed that the new President could eradicate this problem once and for all. In order to avoid the national disillusionment, Lincoln agreed to the amendment signing from the perspective of maintaining the country’s integrity. He mentioned he would do anything to avert the state shattering to pieces. In such a way, the amendment project passed the verification from US legislative representatives, and the final decision had to be made by the state residents. Only five states, including Ohio, Maryland, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Illinois, ratified the amendment while others considered it as the humiliation of human rights. Thus, the document aimed at securing the state’s unity appeared to create an even bigger gap in terms of a universal agreement between both southern and northern residents of the country.

To sum everything up, the Corwin Amendment can be considered as a vivid example of an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the internal state conflict. Abraham Lincoln, being introduced to the public as a supporter of human rights, chose the wrong way of diplomacy by showing people the uncertainty and ambiguity of his beliefs and values. Thus, such a behavior pattern led to the country’s state where the residents had to come to a consensus with the help of weapons and physical interference, also known as the Civil War.