Original copy of 13th Amendment will be exhibited in WNC for first time

Here’s the press release from the office of Gov. Pat McCrory:

A handful of documents changed the character of the United States. The 13th Amendment, formally ending legal slavery in this country, is one of them.

As part of the observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and in recognition of Juneteenth, June 19, the date many African-Americans observe as when the last of the enslaved in 1865 learned they were free, there will be a tour of North Carolina’s copy of the 13th Amendment for limited engagements in June led by the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR).

“The 13th Amendment wasn’t just a symbol of freedom; it was indissoluble proof that equality means nothing if it is not meant for all,” said Governor McCrory. “I encourage everyone to take advantage of this rare exhibition to view one of the most important documents in our history.”

The U.S. Congress passed the 13th Amendment on Jan. 31, 1865, and ratified it on Dec. 6, 1865. North Carolina’s copy of the document is stored in a climate-controlled vault of the State Archives of North Carolina. The fragile document will travel to six state historic sites from June 5 through June 21, and will be at each venue for one day only. This will be the first time the document has traveled outside of Raleigh.

“As we approach the 150th anniversary of the creation of this important, nation-changing document, NCDCR feels it is only appropriate to carry it from Raleigh to exhibit in very symbolic locations,” explained NCDCR Secretary Susan Kluttz. “I think it is especially important that we are showcasing this freedom document in slave cabins at three of the state historic sites.”

Original slave cabins stand at Historic Stagville in Durham and Vance Birthplace in Weaverville, while reproduction cabins are at Somerset Place in Creswell. Other venues on the tour are Historic Edenton, Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia and the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center in Kinston.

“Viewing the 13th amendment is a powerful way to bear witness to the call for human equality and the call for freedom,” observed N.C. Arts Council Senior Program Director Michelle Lanier, who also is director of the N.C. African American Heritage Commission. “I plan to view this sacred and groundbreaking document as a way of paying homage to all those who were in legal bondage in our state and to all those who continue to strive for liberation.”

North Carolina’s copy of the 13th Amendment was one sent to the states in February 1865 and was ratified by the North Carolina legislature Dec. 6, 1875. Southern states had to ratify the amendment to be readmitted to the United States. The 13th Amendment most recently was on exhibit last summer at the N.C. Museum of History.

“Although the State Archives is guardian of the most prized documents of North Carolina, we are pleased to partner with state historic sites to bring one of the state’s treasures to the people,” said State Archivist Sarah Koonts. “We are excited our citizens will have the opportunity to celebrate this document and its ratification nearly 150 years ago.”

Juneteenth 13th Amendment Tour:
June 5 – Historic Edenton, Edenton Courthouse                                11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 6 – Somerset Place, Creswell                                                                11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 12 – Vance Birthplace, Weaverville                                                     11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 13 – Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum, Sedalia Kimball Hall 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 14 – Historic Stagville, Durham                                                             10 a.m.-5 p.m.
June 21 – CSS Neuse Interpretive Center, Kinston                                  10 a.m.-5 p.m.

For additional information, please call (919) 807-7389 or visit www.ncdcr.gov/Juneteenth.

The traveling exhibit is a collaboration between the State Archives of N.C., the N. C. Division of State Historic Sites, the N.C. Museum of History and the N.C. African American Heritage Commission.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.



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About Jake Frankel
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