1800s |

Lincoln Declares That ALL People Are Free – 9/22/1862

On September 22nd of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which effectively freed three out of four African American people from the imprisonment of slavery. Some states were still exempt. The Proclamation also called for African American soldiers in the military.

The Proclamation set the date for the freedom of more than three million slaves, who were forced to work on wealthy plantations in the southern states. The Proclamation shed a new light on the Civil War, suddenly revealing it as a war against slavery. Previously, President Lincoln had claimed that the Civil War was meant to restore the Union. Lincoln, who personally found the notion of slavery morally repugnant, needed to move cautiously until he could gain wide enough support to carry out his plan.

The original Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, ordained by the President himself, as opposed to an act passed by Congress. The original proclamation would exempt states that had slaveholders, but were still loyal to the Union. In any case, the Emancipation Proclamation would set three out of four slaves free. President Lincoln's cabinet advised him not to make the announcement about freeing slaves until a Union victory occurs. So on September 22nd at the end of the battle of Antietam, President Lincoln announced that slaves still held in states that were still in rebellion would be free within 100 days.

Lincoln probably had his personal motives for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Aside from finding slavery personally repugnant, maybe some states would stop rebelling against the Union if they thought it meant they could keep their slaves. Maybe Lincoln knew that freed slaves would make good war soldiers. In any case, on January 1st of 1863, President Lincoln made the announcement outlining the main points of the Emancipation Proclamation. At the same time, he also established black military units. As many as 180,000 African Americans were sent to serve in the Army, with another 18,000 more serving in the Navy.

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, and raised on the western frontier in Kentucky and Indiana. He was largely self-taught, but eventually studied law in Illinois. While in Illinois, he became a Whig party leader and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1854, he became the leader of a brand new political party called the Republicans. He was elected president in 1860, with very little support from the slave states. His term of office lasted from March 4th of 1861 to April 15th of 1865, when he was assassinated. Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth president of the United States.

After the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, it became impossible for anti-slavery nations such as Britain and France to side with the Confederacy. Lincoln then pushed for an anti-slavery amendment to the Constitution, to be sure of its permanence. The passing of the 13th Amendment in 1865 abolished slavery in America for good.

Lincoln's final, hand written draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. 

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Kelly Sutherland


Hi! I'm Kelly. My favorite time period was the 70s. I had a boatloads of fun traveling around with my close friends spreading love and just living my life to the fullest... if you know what I mean ;) Now I enjoy sitting in my cozy nook writing and learning about history.