On this day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation:
“… on the first day of January … 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.”
While the formal proclamation came into effect on January 1, 1863, this date in 1862 marked the official turn of the president’s Civil War aims from preservation of the Union to ending slavery. This declaration (and even Lincoln) has been criticized for its narrow scope. Technically it emancipated only “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.” That is, where Union forces had not yet conquered. Also, the four Union slave-holding states (Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia) were not covered in the act.
Still, it was a monumental shift in national aims, and made the end of slavery central to the Civil War.
It is believed that President Lincoln penned the draft in his summer “cottage” in D.C., north of the White House.
– Fred Dews, 2010