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Emancipation Proclamation

First page of the Emancipation Proclamation
Lincoln, Abraham
1863 January 1
Document

Lincoln, Abraham. Emancipation Proclamation. National Archives and Records Administration, Record Group 11, Presidential Proclamations, 1791 - 2011. https://catalog.archives.gov/id/299998

From his opposition to the Mexican–American War and his condemnation of the Dred Scott case during his debates with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s attitudes on race and slavery continued to evolve, but he remained a pragmatist throughout his life and political career. Although he became one of the country’s most eloquent critics of slavery, Lincoln also married Mary Todd, who grew up in a family that owned slaves. After he was elected president he attempted to keep the South in the Union by promising to protect slavery where it already existed. However, he also insisted that the federal government would not allow the institution to expand any further. At the start of the war, many supporters of the Union assaulted abolitionists and blamed them for provoking the war. Some Northern whites started riots that targeted and victimized blacks. However, the rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln throughout the war charted the evolution of white attitudes on slavery, blacks, and equality. The profound loss the war inflicted on millions of Americans and the bravery and heroism of black troops in the Union army persuaded many Northern whites to support emancipation even though they had resented arguments at the outset of the war that the conflict had been about slavery. During the first year and a half of the war, the Union struggled to achieve a major military victory in the field against the Confederate army. Desperate to declare a major victory and discourage European intervention in the war, President Lincoln seized a political opportunity after a promising Union result at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. During the war’s single bloodiest day of fighting, Union forces inflicted heavy casualties on General Robert E. Lee’s army and forced the Confederates to retreat from Maryland back into Virginia. On the heels of this battle, the president sought to achieve the twin goals of appeasing abolitionists in the North and undermining the Confederate economy by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. How does the Emancipation Proclamation help to answer the question, How did the country change because of the Civil War?
From his opposition to the Mexican–American War and his condemnation of the Dred Scott case during his debates with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln’s attitudes on race and slavery continued to evolve, but he remained a pragmatist throughout his life and political career. Although he became one of the country’s most eloquent critics of slavery, Lincoln also married Mary Todd, who grew up in a family that owned slaves. After he was elected president he attempted to keep the South in the Union by promising to protect slavery where it already existed. However, he also insisted that the federal government would not allow the institution to expand any further. At the start of the war, many supporters of the Union assaulted abolitionists and blamed them for provoking the war. Some Northern whites started riots that targeted and victimized blacks. However, the rhetoric of Abraham Lincoln throughout the war charted the evolution of white attitudes on slavery, blacks, and equality. The profound loss the war inflicted on millions of Americans and the bravery and heroism of black troops in the Union army persuaded many Northern whites to support emancipation even though they had resented arguments at the outset of the war that the conflict had been about slavery. During the first year and a half of the war, the Union struggled to achieve a major military victory in the field against the Confederate army. Desperate to declare a major victory and discourage European intervention in the war, President Lincoln seized a political opportunity after a promising Union result at the battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862. During the war’s single bloodiest day of fighting, Union forces inflicted heavy casualties on General Robert E. Lee’s army and forced the Confederates to retreat from Maryland back into Virginia. On the heels of this battle, the president sought to achieve the twin goals of appeasing abolitionists in the North and undermining the Confederate economy by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. These questions can help guide your students through a discussion of the significance of the proclamation: What did the Emancipation Proclamation actually do? What did it not do? Why does it matter? Why is it important that the proclamation is based on his powers as commander in chief? How can the proclamation be viewed as a pragmatic and realistic approach to a very specific historical moment during the Civil War? Who was the document’s intended audience? What is the enduring significance of the Emancipation Proclamation? How would Alexander Stephens respond to the Emancipation Proclamation? Why? How would Sojourner Truth have responded to Stephens’s critique of the Emancipation Proclamation (see Source 5)? Would Truth have had any criticisms of the proclamation? If so, how would her views have been different from Lincoln’s?

January 1, 1863

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 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 first day