‘Slavery, At Last, Is At An End’: Reporting on the Ratification of the 13th Amendment in Ireland

Irish in the American Civil War

150 years ago today the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery was ratified– it’s adoption was proclaimed on 18th December by Secretary of State William H. Seward. As we have explored on the site, the ideological motivations for the service of Union Irish soldiers (where it existed) seem to have been strongly tilted towards preserving the Union, rather than the abolition of slavery. Indeed, it is fair to say that the majority of Irish troops, overwhelmingly Democratic in political leaning, were either ambivalent towards emancipation or even openly hostile towards it (for some discussion on this area see posts here and here, and for the types of views expressed in Irish letters see here). Of course, when so many tens of thousands of Irishmen served in the war, it is impossible to speak in generalities with respect to their views. Many surely felt like Patrick Guiney, Colonel of the 9th…

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