President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.” The Emancipation Proclamation confirmed that the war for the Union must become a war for freedom. It added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. The original of the Emancipation Proclamation , is in the National Archives in Washington, DC.
There is a common misconception among Americans that Abraham Lincoln freed the American slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves were not immediately freed as a result of the Proclamation, as it only applied to rebelling states not under Union control. Also, the proclamation did not apply to parts of rebelling states already under Union control. The Proclamation did not cover the 800,000 slaves in the Union’s slave-holding border states of Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland or Delaware. As the regions in the South that were under Confederate control ignored the Proclamation, slave ownership persisted until Union troops captured additional Southern territory. It was only with the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 that slavery was officially abolished in all of the United States.
Tomorrow, Lincoln’s Defense of the Emancipation Proclamation Rita Bay