Crittenden–Johnson Resolution

The Crittenden–Johnson Resolution (also called the Crittenden Resolution and the War Aims Resolution) was a measure passed almost unanimously by the 37th United States Congress on July 25, 1861.[1] The bill was introduced as the War Aims Resolution, but it became better known for its sponsors Representative John J. Crittenden of Kentucky and Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, both slaveholders from border states. The American Civil War had begun on April 12, 1861, with various southern states seceding in the following months. Both houses of Congress passed this resolution days after the First Battle of Bull Run made it clear that the war would not end quickly. It was passed almost unanimously in July, but sentiment shifted so much in the following months that it was defeated by a decisive majority in December.[2]

The resolution is sometimes confused with the "Crittenden Compromise," a series of unsuccessful proposals to amend the United States Constitution that were debated after slave states began seceding, in an attempt to prevent the Confederate States of America from leaving the Union. Both measures are sometimes confused with the Corwin Amendment, a proposal to amend the Constitution that was adopted by the 36th Congress[3] which attempted to put slavery and other states' rights under Constitutional protection; it passed Congress but was not ratified by the states.

Historical background

President Abraham Lincoln was concerned that the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland in the crucial upper south might leave the Union to join the Confederate States of America. If Maryland were lost, Washington, D.C. would be entirely surrounded by Confederate territory. Both Missouri and Kentucky were slave states of questionable loyalty to the Union that bordered on important Union territory; Lincoln was born in Kentucky and losing his birth state would be seen as a political failure. Also, the Ohio River marks Kentucky's northern border and was strategically important as the economic lifeline of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana--each of which shipped goods down this river to the Mississippi River for sale or further shipment in New Orleans, Louisiana. Delaware (the other slave state that remained in the Union) had so few slaves that its loyalty would not be questioned.