About This Text
The Corwin Amendment was a failed attempt to provide constitutional protection to slavery in the states where it already existed to defuse the crisis over secession by appeasing Southern slave holders. Lame-duck President James Buchanan encouraged representative Thomas Corwin of Ohio to devise legislation that would reassure Southerners that the incoming Lincoln administration would be unable to interfere with slavery. The amendment passed the House and Senate by narrow margins, but was never ratified by the states, in part because seven pro-slavery states had already seceded and refused to consider it. Abraham Lincoln mentions the Corwin Amendment in his first inaugural address, where he makes no objection to it despite his moral opposition to slavery.