The Emancipation Proclamation will be on display for just three days this month: February 15, 16, and 17 as part of the National Archives’ celebration of Black History Month.
Due to its fragile condition, it can only be displayed for a limited time each year. The document will be on display in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"TO THE WOMEN OF THE REPUBLIC:
We ask you to sign and circulate this petition for the entire abolition of Slavery. We have now one hundred thousand signatures, but we want a million before Congress adjourns. Remember the President’s Proclamation reaches only the Slaves of Rebels. The jails of LOYAL Kentucky are to-day “crammed” with Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama slaves, advertised to be sold for their jail fees “according to LAW,” precisely as before the war!!! While slavery exists anywhere there can be freedom nowhere.”
"To the Women of the Republic," Address from the Women’s Loyal National League supporting the abolition of slavery, 01/25/1864
From the Records of the U.S. Senate
Although the Emancipation Proclamation had been issued one year earlier, it applied only to slaves in rebel states. Slaves held in states still in the Union were unaffected. Slavery would not be completely abolished until ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865.
(Note: A full transcription of this document is available at Wikisource.)
"To the People of the Trans-Miss. Department"
The Confederacy depended on enslaved people to build fortifications, cook, drive supply wagons, work in hospitals, and produce munitions. Slave labor also planted and harvested many Southern crops, especially when white males were away fighting. The Union’s decision to emancipate, enlist, and arm black men was an enormous threat to Southern independence. This broadside urged owners to move their slaves away from the advancing Union Army and contribute their “servants” to the cause.
Broadside “To the People of the Trans-Miss. Department”, 09/15/1863. From the War Department Collection of Confederate Records
FREEDOM, Protection, Pay, and a Call to Military Duty!
After President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the U.S. Army began recruiting black men in earnest to fight for the Union Army. The Confederate government regarded captured black soldiers as fugitive slaves, not prisoners of war. It threatened to execute or sell them into slavery. This broadside reassured potential black recruits that the U.S. Government would treat all of its troops as soldiers and retaliate in the event of Confederate mistreatment of black U.S. soldiers, as detailed in Lincoln’s General Order 233, issued July 30, 1863:
"It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens, of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and the usages and customs of war, as carried on by civilized powers, permit no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person on account of his color, is a relapse into barbarism and a crime against the civilization of the age.
The Government of the United States will give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession. It is, therefore ordered, for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed, and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of war.”
"…I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing rebellion, with reference to the emancipation of slaves…”
This oath was James Hicks’s first step to reclaiming his land that was held by the Freedmen’s Bureau. One of the major activities of the Bureau was the leasing of abandoned and confiscated property. Although their numbers were small, freedmen who had means were allowed to lease land ranging from 10 to 100 acres.
Oath and Allegiance of James Hicks, 6/5/1865
From the Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands
War Department General Order 143: Ordering the Creation of the U.S. Colored Troops, May 22, 1863
The outbreak of the Civil War set off a rush by free black men to enlist in U.S. military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred Negroes from bearing arms for the U.S. Army. The Lincoln administration wrestled with the idea of authorizing the recruitment of black troops, concerned that such a move would prompt the border states to secede.
However, following the Emancipation Proclamation and faced with dwindling white volunteers, black recruitment was pursued in earnest. Volunteers from South Carolina, Tennessee, and Massachusetts filled the first authorized black regiments. Recruitment was slow until black leaders such as Frederick Douglass encouraged black men to become soldiers to ensure eventual full citizenship. (Two of Douglass’s own sons contributed to the war effort.) Volunteers began to respond, and in May 1863 the Government established the Bureau of Colored Troops to manage the burgeoning numbers of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 black men (10 percent of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and another 19,000 served in the Navy.
via Our Documents
Letter from Brigadier General W. Sooy Smith to the Commander of the 1st Division of the 16th Army Corps. 3/27/1863
After the Emancipation Proclamation, the stream of slaves running to freedom swelled to a flood. Gen. W. Sooy Smith, who commanded Union troops in Tennessee, faced a dilemma. Men loyal to the Union wanted their property returned. But Smith’s orders were to refuse such requests. This letter asks how to avoid “the charge of furnishing Asylum to the Servants of loyal men.” The War Department usually advised that runaways be employed by the Army.
This photograph shows 88-year-old Mrs. Sally Fickland, a former slave, looking at the Emancipation Proclamation in 1947.
She would have been 3 years old when Lincoln signed the proclamation in 1862.
The document was in Philadelphia that day on the first stop on the Freedom Train tour. The Freedom Train carried the Emancipation Proclamation and the Bill of Rights across America. During the 413-day tour, 3.5 million people in 322 cities in 48 states viewed these recordsDue to its fragile condition—it was printed on both sides of poor-quality 19th-century paper, unlike the Constitution, which is written on more durable parchment—the Emancipation Proclamation can only be displayed for 30 hours each year.
Now you have a chance to see this invaluable document on the 150th anniversary of its signing! We will have extended viewing hours, dramatic readings, music, and family activities, all for free at the National Archives from December 30, 2012, to January 1, 2013. Details here: http://go.usa.gov/gWbAImage: Record Group 64, National Archives.
The Emancipation Proclamation is displayed for a few days each year because of its fragility and the need to preserve it for future generations.
This year we will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s proclamation with a special three-day exhibit and extended viewing hours:
Sunday, December 30, 2012, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Monday, December 31, 2012, 10 a.m.-12 a.m.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
The document will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives building, which is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The building is Metro accessible on the Yellow and Green lines at the Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.
Don’t miss your chance to see Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten draft, issued on September 22, 1862, from the New York State Library, alongside the Official Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from the National Archives.
This weekend in NYC, September 21 to September 24 at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.
150 Years of the DC Emancipation Act
In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the DC Emancipation Act, the National Archives has released this short documentary video. Archivists discusses the petitions filed by owners and enslaved persons; how the process worked, and how the University of Nebraska’s new website, Civil War Washington (www.civilwardc.org) will make the petitions available to researchers.
The District of Columbia Emancipation Act
On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Passage of this act came 9 months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The act brought to conclusion decades of agitation aimed at ending what antislavery advocates called "the national shame" of slavery in the nation’s capital.
Filed March 29, 1858, this is an affidavit by slaveowner C.A. Stovall in the case of “C.A. Stovall vs. Archy (Lee), a Slave,” the only known federal Fugitive Slave case tried in California, a “free state.” Surviving proceedings documents in the case record, filed mostly by Stovall the slaveholder, give his versions of both his and Archie’s travels and activities, which began in Mississippi and proceeded all the way to Sacramento, California, and then to San Francisco, where Archy was arrested by the U.S. Marshal. The case was finally resolved by the U.S. Commissioner of San Francisco, who concluded on April 14, 1858, that Archie was not a fugitive slave and should be released.
Fugitive slave arrested…and freed
This March 17, 1858, warrant—from the only known Federal fugitive slave case tried in California—directed the arrest of a fugitive slave named Archy. His owner, Mississippian C. A. Stovall, claimed to be visiting California when Archy became a fugitive. Stovall demanded that Archy be returned to him. Archie was tried in California and Federal courts and eventually freed.
Warrant of Arrest, 03/17/1858
Judgment in the U.S. Supreme Court Case Dred Scott v. John F.A. Sanford, March 6, 1857
The 11-year struggle for freedom by the enslaved Dred Scott and his wife culminated in one of the Supreme Court’s most criticized decisions. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney read the majority opinion of the Court, which stated that slaves were not citizens of the United States and, therefore, could not expect any protection from the federal government or the courts; the opinion also stated that Congress had no authority to ban slavery from a federal territory. The decision was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, which abolish slavery and declare all persons born in the United States to be citizens.
Cover Sheet Summarizing Disposition of the Dred Scott Case by the U.S. Supreme Court, 03/06/1857