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Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln

Emancipation Proclamation: Abraham Lincoln was the 16th American President who served in office from March 4, 1861 to April 15, 1865. One of the important events during his presidency was the Emancipation Proclamation which led to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Definition and Summary of the Emancipation Proclamation
Summary and definition:
The Emancipation Proclamation was formally issued as presidential proclamation on January 1, 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln. It was introduced as a war measure during the Civil War freeing the slaves in those territories still in rebellion against the Union (the Confederate States of America).

Slavery was eventually banned throughout the United States by the 13th Amendment which was ratified on December 6, 1865.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids - The 13th Amendment
On January 31, 1865 Congress approved the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution which made slavery, in all its forms, illegal. . The 13th Amendment is about the Abolishment of Slavery and is therefore also called the Slavery Amendment which was referred to in Article 1 and Article 4, (Fugitive Slave Clause) of the Constitution. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified on December 6, 1865.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The Important Words
There are three phrases with in the Emancipation Proclamation that are so important that they are capitalized and in bold lettering. The Emancipation Proclamation at first declares that all persons held in states that are in rebellion against the United States "shall be FOREVER FREE" and repeats the sentiments by saying that "...ALL PERSONS HELD AS SLAVES...SHALL BE FREE!".

Emancipation Proclamation Summary for kids - What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
Summary of the Emancipation Proclamation. What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?

  • The Emancipation Proclamation made freeing the slaves an explicit goal of the Union war effort

  • The Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the states that were still in rebellion

  • The Emancipation Proclamation only  applied to slaves in lands held by the Confederacy. It did not apply to those in the four slave states that were not in rebellion (Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri)

  • The Emancipation Proclamation proclaimed that people amongst those freed could be enrolled into the paid service of United States' forces

  • The Emancipation Proclamation ordered the Union Army (and all the Executive branch of government) to "recognize and maintain the freedom of" the ex-slaves

  • The Emancipation Proclamation did not order the compensation of the owners

  • The Emancipation Proclamation did not make the ex-slaves citizens.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The History of the Emancipation Proclamation
The history of the Emancipation Proclamation will surprise many.
The Emancipation Proclamation, was formally issued on January 1, 1863, by President Lincoln. The Proclamation is often mistakenly referred to as the legal instrument that ended slavery - it wasn't. The 13th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in December 1865, outlawed Slavery. And the Civil War didn't start over the liberation of slaves...

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The Inauguration of President Lincoln
The reason the Civil War erupted was primarily due States Rights and the debates regarding the extension of slavery. The inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln was on
March 4, 1861 and his election had contributed to the Secession of the South. During his first inaugural address the President declared he had "no purpose ... to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists." However, his words did nothing to stop the Southern states forming a separate government and establishing the Confederate States of America.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The Civil War Starts
On
April 12, 1861, just over a month after the inauguration of President Lincoln, Confederate soldiers under General Pierre Beauregard opened fire on Union troops in an attack on Fort Sumter. This action marked the start of the Civil War.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts: First Steps toward Emancipation - Slavery ended in Washington D.C.
President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican party believed that Congress could not interfere with slavery in the states. But it was lawful to buy slaves and set them free. Or for the government to help the states who wanted to do this.  Congress therefore passed a law offering help to any state which wanted to abolish slavery within its borders. Congress took action to abolish slavery in the new territories - but without compensation. Congress did however, completely abolish slavery in the District of Columbia and provision was made to compensate the owners. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, was a law that ended slavery in Washington, D.C. by paying slave owners for releasing their slaves. The act was signed into law by President Lincoln on April 16, 1862. This is that date that Emancipation Day is celebrated in Washington D.C.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The War Aims Resolution (July 1861)
President Lincoln expressed the fear that premature attempts at emancipation would mean the loss of the border states. On
July 25, 1861: U.S. Congress passed the War Aims Resolution, also called the Crittenden Resolution, that defined the Union goals in the Civil War.  It was written to retain the loyalty of citizens and to reassure the people of the intentions of the government in the slave-holding border states and the Northerners who would fight to save the Union but not to free the slaves. The War Aims resolution declared that the Civil war was being fought to "preserve the Union," not to destroy slavery. The War Aims Resolution implied that war would end when the seceding states returned to the Union, with slavery being intact.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts for kids: The 1862 Militia Act (July 1861)
The Civil War raged on into 1862. The nation witnessed the slaughter of the nation's young men at the Battle of Shiloh on
April 6-7, 1862 when the Union lost 13,573 men in just two days. The bloody carnage continued with the Seven Days Battles between June 26 to July 1, 1862 when the Union lost another 15,249 soldiers. The losses were great and the Union army needed more soldiers. On July 17, 1862 Congress passed the Militia Act authorizing Lincoln to use Black-American soldiers - but they are paid only half of what the white soldiers are paid in the Civil War.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts: The Power to Proclaim
According to the Constitution the President of the United States has the power to make executive orders and proclamations. An executive order is aimed at those inside government whilst presidential proclamations are aimed at those outside government. Executive orders and presidential proclamations carry the same force of law but ensure that such measures are implemented extremely quickly. The President was in command - he had the presidential Power to Proclaim.

Emancipation Proclamation Facts: The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (September 1862)
President Lincoln was instrumental in making the Militia Act law and by August, 1862, he had decided that to free the slaves in the seceded states would help "to save the Union". Lincoln therefore believed that this was the right action to take as a "war measure". On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation stating that on the first day of the new year he would declare all slaves free in any portion of the United States that were still in rebellion.  The reasoning behind the "war measure" was that every Black-American slave taken away from forced labor would weaken the economy of the South and so make the conquest of the Confederacy easier.

The text of the Preliminary Emancipation included the following  "...on the first day of January . . . 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."

Emancipation Proclamation Facts - Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1863)
President Abraham Lincoln kept to his word and issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation the Civil War, that had started to preserve the Union, now became a revolutionary struggle for the abolition of slavery. Please access Emancipation Proclamation Text to read the full proclamation.

10 Facts about the Emancipation Proclamation
The following fact sheet provides 10 interesting facts about the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Lincoln presented the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in July 1862, when the Militia Act was passed, but he decided to wait for a Union military victory before he issued it as a Proclamation.

The Preliminary Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862, following the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam on Wednesday, September 17, 1862

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on Thursday January 1, 1863.

The transmission of the text of the Emancipation Proclamation began over the telegraph wires at 8 p.m. on January 1,1863

Widespread celebrations took place when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by the President

Not everyone was happy with the Emancipation Proclamation - Some Abolitionists were disappointed at its limitations and that the proclamation was only given on account of military necessity

A great celebration was held at the Music Hall in Boston. Among those present to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Harriet Beecher Stowe

In the Proclamation President Lincoln called emancipation "an act of justice"

Many people, in different countries, celebrate Emancipation Day. April 16 is designated as the observance of this holiday in Washington, D.C. - the date the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act was signed into law.

The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect in December 1865 and finally ended slavery throughout the United States.

Black History for kids: Important People and Events
For visitors interested in African American History refer to Black History - People and Events. A useful resource  for teachers, kids, schools and colleges undertaking projects for the Black History Month.

US American History
1850-1865: Civil War Era

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