January 1, 1863
January 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.
This was an order that freed the slaves in the Confederate
States. Although not all the slaves were immediately set
free, it paved the way for the 13th Amendment which would
free all slaves in the United States a few years later.
The watershed document Lincoln prepared many months before
its signing. The Emancipation Proclamation is arguably one
of the top ten most important documents in the history of
the United States; however, it is also one of the most misunderstood.
page is to help you learn the history and politics surrounding
The Emancipation Proclamation. Research below 10 facts,
the background and the Emancipation Proclamation writing
January 1st, 1863, is the date most Americans identify as
the day the Emancipation Proclamation officially took effect,
the ideals of the Proclamation had been carefully contemplated
by President Lincoln many months before.
first proposed the idea of the Emancipation Proclamation
to his cabinet in the summer of 1862 as a war measure
to cripple the Confederacy. Lincoln surmised that if the
slaves in the Southern states were freed, then the Confederacy
could no longer use them as laborers to support the army
in the field, thus hindering the effectiveness of the
Confederate war effort. As an astute politician, however,
Lincoln needed to prove that the Union government could
enforce the Proclamation and protect the freed slaves.
On September 22, 1862, following the Union “victory”
at the Battle of Antietam, the Preliminary Emancipation
Proclamation was issued, this preliminary proclamation
would go into effect three months later on January 1,
Emancipation had an immediate and profound effect on the
course of the war. In addition to saving the Union, freeing
the slaves now became an official war aim, garnering passionate
reactions from both the North and the South. The Proclamation
also allowed for African-Americans to join the Union’s
armed forces, and by the end of the war nearly 200,000
would honorably serve.
the Proclamation applied just to the states in rebellion,
but it paved the way for the 13th Amendment, adopted on
December 6, 1865, which officially abolished slavery in
the United States.
Lincoln read the first draft of this document to his Cabinet
members on July 22, 1862. After some changes, he issued
the preliminary version on September 22, which specified
that the final document would take effect January 1, 1863.
Slaves in Confederate states which were not back in the
Union by then would be free, but slaves in the Border States
were not affected. The president knew the proclamation was
a temporary military measure and only Congress could remove
slavery permanently, but had the satisfaction of seeing
the 13th Amendment pass a few months before his death.
most controversial document in Lincoln's presidency, its
signing met with both hostility and jubilation in the
North. After the preliminary version was made public,
Lincoln noted, "It is six days old, and while commendation
in newspapers and by distinguished individuals is all
that a vain man could wish, the stocks have declined,
and troops come forward more slowly than ever. This, looked
soberly in the face, is not very satisfactory." However,
on the day he approved the final version, Lincoln remarked,
"I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was
doing right, than I do in signing this paper."
Facts about the Emancipation Proclamation
#1: Lincoln actually issued the Emancipation Proclamation
Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation
on September 22nd, 1862. It stipulated that if the Southern
states did not cease their rebellion by January 1st, 1863,
then Proclamation would go into effect. When the Confederacy
did not yield, Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation
on January 1st, 1863.
#2: The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to the
states in rebellion.
Lincoln justified the Emancipation Proclamation as a war
measure intended to cripple the Confederacy. Being careful
to respect the limits of his authority, Lincoln applied
the Emancipation Proclamation only to the Southern states
#3: Lincoln’s advisors did not initially support
the Emancipation Proclamation.
President Lincoln first proposed the Emancipation Proclamation
to his cabinet in the summer of 1862, many of the cabinet
secretaries were apathetic, or worse, worried that the
Proclamation was too radical. It was only Lincoln’s
firm commitment to the necessity and justice of the Proclamation,
along with the victory at Antietam, which finally persuaded
his cabinet members to support him.
#4: The Battle of Antietam (also known as Sharpsburg)
provided the necessary Union victory to issue the Emancipation
Lincoln had first proposed the Emancipation Proclamation
to his Cabinet in July 1862, but Secretary of State William
Seward suggested waiting for a Union victory so that the
government could prove that it could enforce the Proclamation.
Although the Battle of Antietam resulted in a draw, the
Union army was able to drive the Confederates out of Maryland
– enough of a “victory,” that Lincoln
felt comfortable issuing the Emancipation just five days
Fact #5: The Emancipation Proclamation was a firm
demonstration of the President’s executive war powers.
Southern states used slaves to support their armies on
the field and to manage the home front so more men could
go off to fight. In a display of his political genius,
President Lincoln shrewdly justified the Emancipation
Proclamation as a “fit and necessary war measure”
in order to cripple the Confederacy’s use of slaves
in the war effort. Lincoln also declared that the Proclamation
would be enforced under his power as Commander-in-Chief,
and that the freedom of the slaves would be maintained
by the “Executive government of the United States.”
#6: The Emancipation Proclamation changed the focus of
until September 1862, the main focus of the war had been
to preserve the Union. With the issuance of the Emancipation
Proclamation freedom for slaves now became a legitimate
#7: The Emancipation Proclamation helped prevent the involvement
of foreign nations in the Civil War.
and France had considered supporting the Confederacy in
order to expand their influence in the Western Hemisphere.
However, many Europeans were against slavery. Although
some in the United Kingdom saw the Emancipation Proclamation
as overly limited and reckless, Lincoln's directive reinforced
the shift of the international political mood against
intervention while the Union victory at Antietam further
disturbed those who didn't want to intervene on the side
of a lost cause.
Fact #8: The Emancipation Proclamation paved the
way for African-Americans to fight for their freedom.
declared in the Proclamation that African-Americans of
“suitable condition, would be received into the
armed service of the United States.” Five months
after the Proclamation took effect; the War Department
of the United States issued General Orders No. 143, establishing
the United States Colored Troops (USCT). By the end of
the war, over 200,000 African-Americans would serve in
the Union army and navy.
Institute - Hari Jones from Civil
War Trust on Vimeo.
#9: The Emancipation Proclamation led the way to total
abolition of slavery in the United States.
With the Emancipation
Proclamation, the aim of the war changed to include the
freeing of slaves in addition to preserving the Union.
Although the Proclamation initially freed only the slaves
in the rebellious states, by the end of the war the Proclamation
had influenced and prepared citizens to advocate and accept
abolition for all slaves in both the North and South.
The 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United
States, was passed on December 6th, 1865.
#10: Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation
the crowning achievement of his presidency.
as the savior of the Union, President Lincoln actually
considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be 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."
Emancipation Proclamation Transcription
January 1, 1863
the President of the United States of America:
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused
the seal of the United States to be affixed.
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.
the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
Emancipation Proclamation Timeline
Lincoln elected president.
Firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., initiated the Civil War.
First Battle of Bull Run.
Second Bull Run campaign.
Lincoln read initial draft of the Emancipation Proclamation
to Secretaries Seward and Welles.
Lincoln discussed Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation
at a cabinet meeting.
September Antietam campaign.
Cabinet discussion of Emancipation.
First printing of preliminary version of Emancipation
Lincoln signed the Final Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Gettysburg Address.
Lincoln explained his choices related to emancipation.
The march toward Richmond.
Grant's Wilderness campaign.
Battle of Spotsylvania.
June '64-May '65
Fall of Atlanta.
General Lee surrendered.
Lincoln assassinated (further details in Lincoln assassination
Sellers, Library of Congress Manuscript Division Historian.