· When the American Civil War began in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln’s focus was the preservation of the Union, not the abolition of slavery. The system of human bondage did trouble him, but President Lincoln knew that most Northerners and the Border States would not support the abolition of slavery as the main goal of the War at this time. However, by mid-1862, Lincoln was convinced that abolition was the correct military strategy, and he slowly began to develop a new military strategy that rested on his transforming moral ideals about the institution of slavery.
· On September 22, 1862, after the Union’s victory at Antietam, President Lincoln issued a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
· The Preliminary Proclamation stated that if the Confederate states continued to fight and not rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863, he would officially issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
· Three months later the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect.
· The Emancipation Proclamation declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
· The Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states that had seceded from the Union, which left enslavement intact in the Border States of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri.
· The Emancipation Proclamation also exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already been placed under the control of the Union Army.
· The Emancipation Proclamation did not end the system of human bondage, however, it did pave the way for the ratification of the 13th Amendment, which ended the system nationally.
· 48 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation were produced by Charles Leland and George Boker to raise funds for the Union Army at the Philadelphia Great Central Sanitary Fair in June 1864.
· Of the 48 copies, only 26 are known to exist today.
· David Rubenstein, managing director of the Carlyle Group, has kindly loaned the Emancipation Proclamation to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for 1 year.
· This exhibit displays an 1864 “authorized edition” of the Emancipation Proclamation that President Abraham Lincoln issued on January 1, 1863.
· This exhibit displays multiple original Harpers Weekly newspapers relating to the events surrounding the Emancipation Proclamation and text panels describing its history.
· The exhibit was designed, fabricated, and installed by the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Cincinnati Museum Center.