The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation



By the President of the United States of America:


Whereas on the 22nd day of September, A.D. 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, A.D. 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 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 supressing said rebellion, do, on this 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the first day 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, Palquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebone, 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, Morthhampton, 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-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all case 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.


On Jan. 1, 1863, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared free all slaves residing in territory in rebellion against the federal government. This Emancipation Proclamation actually freed few people. It did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control. Naturally, the states in rebellion did not act on Lincoln's order. But the proclamation did show Americans--and the world--that the civil war was now being fought to end slavery.

Lincoln had been reluctant to come to this position. A believer in white supremacy, he initially viewed the war only in terms of preserving the Union. As pressure for abolition mounted in Congress and the country, however, Lincoln became more sympathetic to the idea. On Sept. 22, 1862, he issued a preliminary proclamation announcing that emancipation would become effective on Jan. 1, 1863, in those states still in rebellion. Although the Emancipation

Proclamation did not end slavery in America--this was achieved by the passage of the 13TH Amendment to the Constitution on Dec. 18, 1865--it did make that accomplishment a basic war goal and a virtual certainty.

Bibliography: Commager, Henry Steele, The Great Proclamation
(1960); Donovan, Frank, Mr. Lincoln's Proclamation (1964);
Franklin, John Hope, ed., The Emancipation Proclamation (1964).

The Emancipation Proclamation Amendment to the United States Constitution

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exhist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."

Abraham Lincoln and the abolition of Slavery

Abraham Lincoln was a staunch abolitionist although he was not free of prejudice. In order to win over the majority of the public, Lincoln, at his inaugural address in 1861, vowed not to interfere with the institution of slavery. Contrary to present belief, the general public in the North approved of this attitude. However, at the same time, Lincoln set forth an idea to purchase all 4 million slaves (at a cost of between one-half billion to 2 billion dollars) and also to colonize them abroad. Such an economically unreasonable suggestion was unnecessary as events paved the way for true emancipation without financial compensation.

On the outbreak of the Civil War, it was recognized that the slaves represented a military support advantage to the South. Lincoln reasoned that, if given a chance, these slaves may be willing to join the Northern armies, giving the advantage to the North. In addition, some action against the continuation of slavery would cause England and France to reevaluate their sympathies more in favor of the North.

Lincoln broke his vow and determined to issue a proclamation on January 1, 1863 freeing those slaves in areas of the South which were in active rebellion with the North. In all other areas of the South, the slaves were not freed by the Proclamation.

Although Lincoln had no legal right to issue such a proclamation and indeed the affected states ignored it, nearly 180,000 slaves responded and joined the Northern armies! Jefferson Davis's Counter Emancipation Proclamation**, answers Lincoln by calling for increased men, supplies, patriotism and devotion to meet the new threat.

The military success of the Emancipation Proclamation fueled the abolitionist movement and the proclamation, almost in spite of itself, became a fresh expression of one of man's loftiest aspirations -- the quest for freedom.

The advance toward full emancipation was now inexorable, much to Lincoln's delight. The "death blow to human bondage was sealed" two years later "by the ratification of the 13th Amendment" *---- The Emancipation Proclamation Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

The fight to extend and legalize Lincoln's Proclamation was not easy. In fact, a resolution proposing it as an Amendment to the Constitution failed in the House of Representatives in April, 1864 by a vote of 95 to 66. Arguments against the resolution included "poor timing", "a double insult to the South", and possible "bankruptcy of the South". However after an appeal by Lincoln, the resolution was reconsidered and passed by a count of 119 to 56 on January 31, 1865.

The final passage in the House of Representatives was met with wild acclaim. Both the spectators in the galleries and the members of the House sprang to their feet and, regardless of parliamentary rules, applauded, cheered, clapped their hands and waved hats and handkerchiefs.

On February 1, 1865 Abraham Lincoln signed the Joint Resolution......much to the consternation of the Congress. Not only was the President's signature not necessary for approval but his insistence on signing it could set a precedent for future Congressional Resolutions. The Senate immediately passed a further resolution reasserting a 67-year-old Supreme Court ruling against Presidential signatures on such measures.

The Emancipation Proclamation Amendment was then sent to the States for ratification and on December 18, 1865, the great document became law.



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