Proclamation of Emancipation, 1864

William Roberts, after Mathew Brady
Wood engraving with one tint

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

<< Return

Proclamation of Emancipation


The Emancipation Proclamation was issued after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862, to take effect on January 1, 1863. Reaction to the proclamation was generally favorable, although many northerners withheld their support, feeling it either did too much or too little; the South responded with bitter derision, pointing out that Lincoln only freed the slaves in areas in rebellion!


But Lincoln kept the political and moral pressure on, specifically in his State of the Union Address, where he explicitly linked emancipation with the Union cause: “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve.” Emancipation would cleanse the Union of its original sin and redeem the promise of the Founders, a theme on which Lincoln would elaborate in the Gettysburg Address.

<< Return