Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln, and Slavery History

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Freedom of Slaves
Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln
Emancipation Proclamation History


Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation.jpg
Master Lincoln, why didn't you free me?

Did you know that President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation midway through the Civil War and that the proclamation did not free a single slave? Did you also know that Lincoln refused to emancipate any of the 500,000 slaves in the Union controlled Border States? What was Lincoln's motive for endorsing and approving the continued enslavement of African-Americans? Why did Lincoln exclude the Border States from his Emancipation Proclamation? While the Union needed to subjugate the Southern states to free the slaves, Lincoln could have immediately freed the 500,000 slaves already under Union control but refused. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, Lincoln had absolutely no idea if the Union would even win the war, and his personal correspondence reflected desperation on his part. Even after signing the proclamation, the Civil War would continue for another 2 years and 3 months.
In the enclosed Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln states precisely why he issued the proclamation: 1) out of military necessity, 2) to enlist blacks into armed service of the United States.
What President Abraham Lincoln didn't write in the controversial Emancipation Proclamation is equally important to consider compared to the text itself. The timing of the proclamation was not by accident because Lincoln stated that the emancipation was out of military necessity, and he issued the proclamation following the costly Battle of Antietam. But the political stakes were increasing daily, and while Lincoln had recently experienced the volatile Trent Affair, he was aware of France's desire to conquer Mexico and expand its influence to the Southern gate of the United States. It was now at the height of the Monroe Doctrine that Lincoln coined the phrase, "One war at a time."
While the North and South were engaged in a fierce Civil War, there was no indication of an outcome to the conflict. As the war progressed, anti-war sentiment increased as noted in the Copperhead ranks and in Northern newspapers. To tilt the balance of power in favor of the North, Lincoln, politically, had to apply international diplomacy to his advantage quickly. Because foreign powers such as France, England, and Spain viewed a divided United States as a weaker nation with less influence on the international stage and as a nation that would be much easier to negotiate and control, each had a vested interest in the demise of the Union. Since England, France, and Spain had abolished slavery, an Emancipation Proclamation by the United States would parley favor with the international community while it simultaneously shifted the politically war agenda from preserving the Union to a war that would abolish slavery in the United States as well its rebellious Southern states. While military necessity played a minor role in issuing the proclamation, preventing diplomatic recognition of the Confederacy was the unwritten but major influence proclaimed by the president. 
Although it is considered one of the most important documents in American history, the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863, did not immediately end slavery in this country—that was only achieved with passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on December 18, 1865, and months after President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. The proclamation applied only to slaves living in those states that had seceded; it did not affect those states still in the Union, nor the Union controlled Border States and their 500,000 slaves. Most importantly, Lincoln's ability to make good on the Emancipation Proclamation was dependent on complete Union victory. Although the North obviously had to defeat the rebellion in the South in order to free the slaves, the proclamation fundamentally transformed the character of the war and set a national course toward the final abolition of slavery in the United States.
While black Americans heralded Lincoln as their savior with the proclamation, President Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be his greatest achievement and the most important aspect of his legacy. “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper,” he declared. “If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it."

From Emancipation Proclamation to 13th Amendment
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(Map) The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the United States

Proclamation Declared
Members of Abraham Lincoln's cabinet gathered at the White House on July 22, 1862, to hear the president read his draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Written by Lincoln alone, without consultation from his cabinet, the proclamation declared that all persons held as slaves in states that were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free."
Initially, Lincoln was concerned only with preserving the Union, but he had become increasingly sympathetic to the call for abolition as the Civil War progressed. Determined to move forward with his cause, the president met with his cabinet on September 22 to refine his July draft and announce what is now known as the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In this document, he issued an ultimatum to the seceded states: Return to the Union by New Year's Day or freedom will be extended to all slaves within your borders. When the secessionist states ignored this warning, Lincoln issued the final proclamation on January 1, 1863.

Emancipation Proclamation and Abraham Lincoln
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Copy of Emancipation Proclamation, 1864

Early Slave Trading Routes
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Map of Early Slave Trading Routes

Early slave trade regions and origins
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Map of early slave trade regions and origins

Emancipation Proclamation
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."

Emancipation Proclamation
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First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter

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.

See also
Southern Secession, Slavery, and Emancipation Proclamation: A Northern Perspective

Sources: Library of Congress; United States Senate; National Park Service; National Archives.


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