proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, declaring all "slaves within any State, or designated part of a State. . . then. . . in rebellion,. . . shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." The states affected were enumerated in the proclamation; specifically exempted were slaves in parts of the South then held by Union armies. Lincoln's issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation marked a radical change in his policy; historians regard it as one of the great state documents of the U.S.After the outbreak of the Civil War, the slavery issue was made acute by the flight to Union lines of large numbers of slaves who volunteered to fight for their freedom and that of their fellow slaves. In these circumstances, a strict application of established policy would have required return of fugitive slaves to their Confederate masters and would have alienated the staunchest supporters of the Union cause in the North and abroad.Abolitionists had long been urging Lincoln to free all slaves, and public opinion seemed to support this view. Lincoln moved slowly and cautiously nonetheless; on March 13, 1862, the federal government forbade all Union army officers to return fugitive slaves, thus annulling in effect the fugitive slave laws. On April 10, on Lincoln's initiative, Congress declared the federal government would compensate slave owners who freed their slaves. All slaves in the District of Columbia were freed in this way on April 16, 1862. On June 19, 1862, Congress enacted a measure prohibiting slavery in U.S. territories, thus defying the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case, which ruled that Congress was powerless to regulate slavery in the territories.Finally, after the Union victory in the Battle of Antietam (Sept. 17, 1862), Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation on September 22, declaring his intention of promulgating another proclamation in 100 days, freeing the slaves in the states deemed in rebellion at that time. On Jan. 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, conferring liberty on about 3,120,000 slaves. With the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in effect in 1865, slavery was completely abolished.The results of the Emancipation Proclamation were far-reaching. From then on, sympathy with the Confederacy was identified with support of slavery. Antislavery sentiment in France and Great Britain, whose governments were friendly to the Confederacy, became so strong that it precluded the possibility of intervention by those governments in behalf of the Confederacy. As a further result of the proclamation, the Republican party became unified in principle and in organization, and the prestige it attained enabled it to hold power until 1884.For further information on this topic, see the Bibliography, sections 1146. African American history, 1154. Civil War, history.
text of the emancipation proclamation
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: A Proclamation
Whereas on the 22nd day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty-two, 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, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred 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 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 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 repressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty-three, 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, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, 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, Northhampton, 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-defense; 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 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.