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Emancipation Proclamation


The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in two parts, the first on 1862 September 22 was a preliminary announcement outlining the intent of the second part, which officially went into effect 1863 January 1, during the second year of the American Civil War. The  Emancipation Proclamation was Abraham Lincoln's declaration that all slaves in all states which had seceded from the Union and which had not returned to Federal control by 1863 January 1, would be emancipated. The ten affected states were individually named on 1863 January 1. Intentionally omitted were Maryland and Delaware (which had never seceded), Tennessee (already under Union control), and Missouri and Kentucky (with factional governments that had been accepted to the Confederacy, but had not officially seceded). Specific exemptions were stated for 48 counties designated to become the free state of West Virginia, along with several other named counties of Virginia; and also New Orleans and several named parishes in Louisiana already under Union control.

After the outbreak of the Civil War, numerous slaves volunteered to fight for their freedom on the Union side, and there were also conflicting viewpoints about what to do with slaves in conquered territories. A strict application of existing policy could have required return of fugitive slaves to their Confederate masters, but on 1862 March 13, the federal government forbade all Union army officers from returning fugitive slaves, thus effectively annulling the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. On 1862 April 10, Congress declared the federal government would compensate slave owners who freed their slaves. All slaves in the District of Columbia were freed in this way on 1862 April 16. 1862 June 19 Congress prohibited slavery in United States territories, thus nullifying the 1857 decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in the Dred Scott Case, which had ruled that Congress was powerless to regulate slavery in the territories.

The Emancipation Proclamation itself had limited immediate effect upon slavery — except as territory in Confederate states came under Union control. Slaves in the border states (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia) which remained loyal to the Union were not affected. Secretary of State William Seward commented on this by remarking, "We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." Had any seceding state rejoined the Union (or simply returned its congressmen to Washington) before the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, it would have been in the same position as the border states and could have kept slavery — at least temporarily. (Although Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, and West Virginia all went on to abolish slavery by their own internal political processes even before the ratification of the thirteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1865).

However, Lincoln believed he had no constitutional authority to free the slaves except in those states where it was deemed a military necessity in order to suppress the rebellion, and freeing slaves was still a risky political act given that there were still slave states loyal to the union, and the initial war aims were centered on preserving the union rather than freeing slaves. As such, the Emancipation Proclamation was a military order issued by Lincoln in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief. The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed for the admittance of freed slaves into the (previously segregated) United States military, an unusual opportunity taken by nearly 200,000 black men, many of them former slaves. This gave the North an additional manpower resource that the South would not emulate until the final days before its defeat.

Lincoln first discussed the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet in July 1862, but because of the political implications of this act (including the presence of slave states within the Union), he felt that he needed a Union victory in the Civil War before he could issue it. After the Battle of Antietam, in which Union troops turned back a Confederate invasion of Maryland, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. The final Emancipation Proclamation was then issued in January of the following year.

Despite the limited immediate effect on the slaves, the Emancipation Proclamation represented a shift in the war objectives of the North — merely reuniting the nation would no longer become the sole outcome. The Emancipation Proclamation represented a major step toward the ultimate abolition of slavery in the United States.

However, there were a limited number of slaves who were freed immediately by the Emancipation Proclamation. Runaway slaves who made it to Union lines had been held by the Union army as "contraband of war" in contraband camps, when the Emancipation Proclamation took effect they were told at midnight that they were free to leave. Also, the Sea Islands off the coast of Georgia had been occupied by the Union navy earlier in the war, the whites had fled to the mainland while the blacks stayed, largely running their own lives; naval officers read the Emancipation Proclamation to them and told them they were free.

In the military, the reaction to this Emancipation Proclamation varied widely with some units coming to near mutiny in protest, and desertions were reported because of it. On the other hand, other units were inspired with the adoption of a cause that seemed to them to ennoble their efforts such that at least one unit took up the motto, "For Union and Liberty".

Slaves were part of the "engine of war" for the Confederacy, continuing to work on farms, producing and preparing food, sewing uniforms, repairing railways, working in factories, shipping yards, and mines; building fortifications, and serving as hospital workers and as common laborers. To encourage discontent among slaves in the Confederacy, a million copies were distributed in the Union-occupied South and, as hoped, news of it spread rapidly by word of mouth, arousing hopes of freedom, creating general confusion, and encouraging many to escape.

Abroad, as Lincoln hoped, the Emancipation Proclamation turned foreign popular opinion in favor of the Union for its new commitment to end slavery. That shift ended any hope the Confederacy might have had of gaining official recognition, particularly with the United Kingdom.

Near the end of the war, Republican abolitionists were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation would be construed solely as a war act and thus unconstitutional once fighting ended. They were also increasingly anxious to secure the freedom of all slaves, not just those freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Thus pressed, Lincoln staked a large part of his 1864 presidential campaign on a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery throughout the United States. Lincoln's campaign was bolstered by separate votes in both Maryland and Missouri to abolish slavery in their states. Maryland's new constitution abolishing slavery took effect 1864 November 1. Winning reelection, Lincoln pressed the lame-duck Congress to pass the proposed amendment immediately rather than wait for the incoming Congress to act in April. On 1865 January 31, Congress approved the Thirteenth Amendment banning slavery in all U.S. states and territories. The amendment was ratified by the states in December 1865. (In practice this mainly affected Kentucky, the only place left in the US where there were still significant numbers of slaves who had not already been freed by various means.)



The Emancipation Proclamation
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 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 State 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 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 first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred 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 Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, 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-defence; 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.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.


Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.


By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


The Emancipation Proclamation




This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Emancipation Proclamation"



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