Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln: Emancipation Proclamation

▪ Primary Source
Emancipation Proclamation, 1863

      In the popular mind the Emancipation Proclamation transformed the Civil War from a struggle to preserve the Union into a crusade for human freedom. But at the time of its issuance, its actual provisions had already largely been enacted into law by Congress, which had provided for the freeing of slaves of owners hostile to the Union, the prohibition of slavery in the District of Columbia and the territories, and the freeing of slave-soldiers. The Emancipation Proclamation actually did not free a single slave, since the regions in which it authorized emancipation were under Confederate control; in the border states where emancipation might have been effected, it was not authorized. It did, however, tremendously boost Union morale, breed disaffection in the South, and bolster support for the Union cause in Europe. The real significance of the document lay in the political factors that brought it to fruition and in the delicate political balance it preserved. By the summer of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had exhausted all other schemes short of full emancipation. African Americans in the North had objected to his offer of colonization; the border states disapproved of his proposal of compensated emancipation; and Abolitionists were demanding a more radical course. The military position of the North had deteriorated when on July 22, 1862, Lincoln called together his cabinet to discuss emancipation. The president later described this fateful day in a conversation with the painter Frank Carpenter. “Things had gone on from bad to worse,” said Lincoln, “until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope.We had about played our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game!” Lincoln had prepared a draft of the proclamation prior to the cabinet meeting, “without consultation with or the knowledge of the Cabinet.” The majority of the cabinet were enthusiastic, including Secretary of State William Seward, who, however, raised an objection to its timing. Seward argued that Lincoln should postpone the proclamation until the Union had achieved some military success, otherwise “it may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help.” Lincoln heeded this advice. After the decisive Battle of Antietam (September 17) stopped the Confederate advance upon Washington, D.C., Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation as reprinted here was issued on January 1, 1863.

      Whereas, on the 22nd day of September, in the year of our Lord 1862, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

      That on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

      That the executive will, on the 1st day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any state or the people thereof shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such states shall have participated shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such state and the people thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States.

      Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as a commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of 100 days from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the states and parts of states wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States the following, to wit:

      Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

      And, by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

      And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

      And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

      And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

Source: The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America from the Organization of the Government in 1863, vol. 12, George P. Sanger, ed., 1865, pp. 1268-1269.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abraham Lincoln on slavery — Abraham Lincoln s position on freeing the slaves was one of the central issues in American history. Though Abraham Lincoln was one of the people identified as most responsible for the abolition of slavery, he did not initially take the position… …   Wikipedia

  • Abraham Lincoln and religion — Abraham Lincoln s religious beliefs are a matter of controversy. Lincoln frequently referenced God and quoted the Bible, yet never joined any church. He was particularly secretive about his beliefs and respected the beliefs of others. Since his… …   Wikipedia

  • Emancipation Proclamation — n. A proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 to free all black slaves in states at war against the Union. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. 2008. Emancipation… …   Law dictionary

  • Emancipation Proclamation — Emancipation Proc|la|ma|tion, the an announcement made in the US by President Abraham Lincoln which ordered the end of ↑slavery (=the practice of owning people as property) in the Confederate States (=the southern states of the US) from January… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Abraham Lincoln — This article is about the American president. For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation). Abraham Lincoln …   Wikipedia

  • Emancipation Proclamation — The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the… …   Wikipedia

  • Abraham Lincoln — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Abraham Lincoln (homonymie) et Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Abraham Lincoln, 1863: Emancipation Proclamation — ▪ Primary Source       In the popular mind the Emancipation Proclamation transformed the American Civil War from a struggle to preserve the Union into a crusade for human freedom. But at the time of its issuance, its actual provisions had already …   Universalium

  • Emancipation Proclamation — U.S. Hist. the proclamation issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in those territories still in rebellion against the Union. * * * (1863) Edict issued by U.S. Pres. Abraham Lincoln that freed the slaves of the… …   Universalium

  • Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War — This article details Abraham Lincoln s actions during the American Civil War. Secession winter 1860–1861 As Lincoln s election became more probable, secessionists made it clear that their states would leave the Union. South Carolina took the lead …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.