By the President of the United States of America:
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."
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.
Jessica: I am here at the National Archives in Washington, DC. It is where many of our nation’s most treasured documents are locked away to keep them safe.
And yesterday marked the 150th anniversary of one of those famous documents. On January 1st 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued an order stating that all slaves in the Confederate states were free.
That brings us to your pop quiz question.
What is the name of the document that freed the slaves? Is it:
A. The Gettysburg Address
B. The Emancipation Proclamation
C. The 16th Amendment
D. The Bill of Rights
You have got ten seconds to pick the right answer!
Time is up!
If you said “B,” The Emancipation Proclamation, you are right!
Reginald Washington: This is one of the great documents of human history and it ranks right up with the Declaration of Independence as historical significance for the U.S.
Jessica: The Civil War broke out in 1861, shortly after President Lincoln took over as America’s 16th president. Lincoln was anti-slavery, and several states broke away from the Union because he was elected. At first, Lincoln maintained that the war was about restoring the Union and not about slavery. He decided to move cautiously, and wait until he could gain wide public support for an anti-slavery measure.
After a big victory for the Union at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, Lincoln announced that he was going to free slaves in the Confederate rebellion states within 100 days. Then on January 1st in 1863, he made good on the promise and declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebel states “shall be free.” The proclamation recast the Civil War as a fight against slavery and eventually more than 3 million black slaves were freed.
The Emancipation Proclamation was also a political move, designed to keep foreign countries from getting involved in the Civil War. Several countries had wanted to support the Confederate states but after the Emancipation Proclamation, they backed down because they didn’t want to appear to support slavery.
Lincoln also opened the door for blacks to join the Union forces. An estimated 180,000 African-Americans went on to serve in the Army, while another 19,000 served in the Navy.
Reginald: They fought gallantly, by all accounts, to free – not only the former enslaved – but to free America.
Jessica: Because the Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential order and not a law passed by Congress, most slaves did not go free immediately. It wasn’t until 1865, after the end of the Civil War, that states ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, officially freeing all the slaves and ending slavery in America.
Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.