Friday, January 30, 2009

Emancipation Proclamation

While I was researching the Magna Carta, it made me think about the Emancipation Proclamation and of course, I couldn't remember what it was. Gee, with as much as I don’t know, it’s hard to imagine I know anything at all.

President Abraham Lincoln was pressured by abolitionists and radical Republicans to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which he approved of in principle and drafted on July 13, 1862, but postponed action until he believed he had wider support from Americans. President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in the midst of the Civil War, announcing on September 22, 1862, that if the rebels did not end the fighting and rejoin the Union by January 1, all slaves in the rebellious states would be free.

The Emancipation Proclamation was formally issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863 as the nation approached its third year of the Civil War. The proclamation states, “that all persons held as slaves are, and henceforward, shall be free.” It was, however, limited only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal Border States. It also exempted parts of the Confederacy that already were under Northern control and the freedom it promised the slaves depended on the Union military victory.

Slaves were not immediately freed, but it fundamentally transformed the character of the war. The advancements of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Black men were accepted into the Union Arm and Navy and so the liberated became the liberators. By war’s end, nearly 200,000 black soldiers had fought for the nation, and their freedom.

Here is an excerpt from the Emancipation Proclamation indicating which states were in rebellion:

“…designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard,
Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

History is so interesting. I wish I knew more of it other than just my own small existence. If I could, I'd go back to the 17-year-old me in history class and say, "hey, pay attention stupid–you don't end up with that boy anyway."

Now you’re a little smarter, Girlfriend — And so am I.

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