A Front-Page New York Printing of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (SOLD)
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“All persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State...in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
Newspaper. New York Semi-Weekly Tribune, New York, N.Y., September 23, 1862. 4 pp., 15½ x 20½ in.
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“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.”
Lincoln’s position on slavery and its role in the Civil War continued to evolve as the war progressed. He also knew that the Union hold on the five slave states (Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and West Virginia) that had remained loyal was tenuous at best. Written as a military order, the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was intended to pressure the states in rebellion to lay down their arms, or else face losing their slaves as victorious Union forces marched South. It also meant that for the first time, Northern military forces would be responsible for the care and safety of African Americans freed by the conquering army. Considering the North’s military situation in 1862, it was a bold move.
Lincoln read an early draft to his cabinet in July 1862, and they advised him to wait for a Union victory before issuing the order. The battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862 finally provided Lincoln the opportunity to announce the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. He justified it as a necessary war measure issued as Commander-in-Chief.
The Proclamation warned the states in rebellion that if they did not submit to the authority of the United States, they would lose their slaves. When the final Proclamation was issued 100 days later, it was tailored, as promised, to free slaves only in states still in rebellion. Some considered it a controversial half-measure: it was too much for conservatives, and too little for abolitionists. Nevertheless, it changed the tenor of the war, offered some hope after the Union disaster at Fredericksburg two weeks earlier, and added a moral dimension to war goals as Northern casualties mounted. It also reflected Lincoln’s personal evolution on ideas of race, and his mastery of the political and strategic situation. Issuing the Emancipation Proclamation had a significant role in achieving Union victory 2½ years later and in realizing the freedom of African Americans.