February
Southern States meet in Montgomery to draft a Confederate Constitution. It forbids the passage of any law denying the right of property in slaves, and citizens of the Confederacy are guaranteed the right to take their slaves into any territory acquired by the Confederate states.

The U.S. Congress passes a proposed thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, which Abraham Lincoln endorses in his inaugural address. It provides that no amendment shall be made to the Constitution to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with the domestic institutions of any state, including "that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State." The amendment represents a desperate attempt to hold the Union together. Ohio, Maryland, and Illinois approve the amendment, but with the outbreak of the Civil War, it is forgotten.

April
Civil War begins.