On this day in 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which warned the Confederate states that if they did not rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves in those states would be freed. The Civil War was still raging, but the Union had just claimed a victory at the Battle of Antietam on September 17th, the bloodiest single-day battle in American history.
Prior to the Proclamation, Lincoln had not issued any anti-slavery proclamations, maintaining that the war was more about preserving the Union than about ending slavery. Issuing the Proclamation changed this. Now support for the Confederacy translated to support for the institution of slavery. This discouraged anti-slavery countries like England and France from intervening in support of the South.
When the Proclamation took effect on January 1, 1863, no slaves were actually freed because it applied only to the Confederate states that were still at war with the Union. It did, however, change the moral tone of the war, making it not just a struggle to save the Union, but also a battle to support human freedom. It also set the stage for the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1865, which put a permanent end to slavery in the United States (1).
Today’s Challenge: Whereas and Therefore
A proclamation is a public or official announcement dealing with a matter of great importance. It can be written to commemorate a specific anniversary or event, to honor an individual or group, or, as in the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, to advocate a specific cause. If you were the president, what proclamation would you make? Support your proclamation with “Whereas” statements that provide evidence to support your case — in other words, details that show why your proclamation is important and timely. Then, end your proclamation with a “Therefore” statement that clearly states what you are confidently proclaiming. (Common Core Writing 2 – Expository)
1- American Battlefield Trust. 10 Facts: The Emancipation Proclamation.