Facsimile of the Emancipation Proclamation (Chicago, 1863). [NLS shelfmark: RB.case.2(33)]
Issued on 1 January 1863, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, referring only to seceded states, declared 'all persons held as slaves […], thenceforward, and forever free.'
Listing territories in rebellion, the proclamation excluded loyal border states, in which slavery existed, such as Delaware and Kentucky.
Hastened abolition of slavery
The proclamation leant military strength to the Union, announcing that black men would 'be received into the armed forces'. Over the course of the war, almost 200,000 black men fought for the Union.
Despite its limitations, the proclamation hastened the abolition of slavery, and, in 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed involuntary servitude.
Women's support for the Union
This 1863 reproduction of the proclamation was sold at the first North-Western Fair to raise funds for a soldiers' home and for the aid organisation, the US Sanitary Commission.
The commission enabled thousands of women to support the Union.
Lincoln, responding to a request for the original draft of the proclamation, explained to 'the ladies having in charge the North Western Fair' that while he had a desire to keep the document, 'if it shall contribute to the relief or comfort of the soldiers that will be better.'
This item featured in our American Civil War display, 'Yankee cries and Rebel yells', at the Library from 21 January to 29 March 2015.