What were two limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There were a few limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Emancipation Proclamation stated that the slaves were free in the South. This was one limitation. Since it was viewed as a military action against the South, it was legal for Lincoln to issue it. However, it did not apply to the Border States in the Union that still had slavery. Since it wasn’t a military action for the North, the president couldn’t free the slaves since the slaves were considered property. The Constitution prevented the president from taking people’s property. Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free the slaves in the North.

A second limitation is that it did not free the slaves in the South. The South viewed itself as an independent nation. Therefore, they didn’t have to follow orders from President Lincoln since they believed he wasn’t their president. As a result, the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free slaves in the South either. In reality, it was a symbolic document since no slaves were freed by it being issued.

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