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What Is The Emancipation Proclamation?


The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. These orders did not end slavery; that happened on 18 December 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Lincoln issued the first, or preliminary, of the two executive orders on 22 September 1862; it stated that if the rebels did not end the Civil War and rejoin the Union by 1 January 1863, then all slaves in the Confederacy would be free.

Lincoln issued the second order, 1 January 1863, as the nation approached its third year of a bloody and expensive civil war. This proclamation named the specific states to which the order applied.

The Emancipation Proclamation became a campaign issue in the 1862 elections; in that election, Democrats gained 28 seats in the House of Representatives as well as the governorship of the state of New York.

Note that the Emancipation Proclamation applied only to the Confederacy, not to the states in the Union. Not included were the Union slave states of Delaware, Maryland, Missouri and Kentucky. Also not named was the state of Tennessee, under the control of the Union Army. Specific exemptions were stated for areas also under Union control, including the 48 counties that would become West Virginia; seven other counties in Virginia; and New Orleans and 13 nearby parishes.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally transformed the character of the war from a one to preserve the Union into a war for freedom.

Source: U.S. Archives

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