Emancipation Proclamation (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: In an effort to preserve the Union, President Lincoln declares all slaves in rebel states to be free.
Summary of Event
The cabinet met at noon on September 22, 1862. President Abraham Lincoln sought to put the members at ease by reading to them from a book of humorous stories, but soon he came to the business at hand. The president announced that he intended to issue that day an emancipation proclamation. Lincoln stated that, since he had consulted the cabinet on the subject before, he desired no comments from them on this occasion. Then he read the proclamation. As of January 1, 1863, all slaves held in states “in rebellion against the United States” would be forever free.
Lincoln had not reached his decision to proclaim emancipation without much thinking and soul-searching. From his youth, he had opposed slavery on both moral and economic grounds. Yet Lincoln was a practical politician and a pragmatic man. He negotiated the secession crisis always inspired by a desire to preserve the Union. It is fair to say that Lincoln wished to abolish slavery but would translate his wish into action only if abolition would enhance his efforts to attain peace. Because he was a practical man, Lincoln realized that emancipation was only part of the solution to the problem of race relations in the United States. He foresaw the plight of the freed slaves and favored compensated emancipation...
(The entire section is 1343 words.)
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Emancipation Proclamation (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The Emancipation Proclamation, formally issued on January 1, 1863, by President ABRAHAM LINCOLN is often mistakenly praised as the legal instrument that ended slaveryctually, the THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT to the Constitution, ratified in December 1865, outlawed SLAVERY. But the proclamation is justifiably celebrated as a significant step toward the goal of ending slavery and making African Americans equal citizens of the United States. Coming as it did in the midst of the Civil War (18615), the proclamation announced to the Confederacy and the world that the ABOLITION of slavery had become an important goal of the North in its fight against the rebellious states of the South. The document also marked a shift in Lincoln's mind toward support for emancipation. Just before signing the final document in 1863, Lincoln said, "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper."
In the text of the proclamationhich is almost entirely the work of Lincoln himselfincoln characterizes his order as "an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity." These words capture the essential character of Lincoln's work in the document. On the one hand, he perceived the proclamation as a kind of military tactic that would aid the Union in...
(The entire section is 1120 words.)