U. S. CIVIL WAR
Library of Congress comments, with some editing, regarding The Emancipation
"Abraham Lincoln considered the Emancipation Proclamation to be one of his greatest achievements. Issued on January 1, 1863, it was widely celebrated in its own time and has enjoyed international celebrity ever since as one of the great documents in the history of human freedom. But its stature has resulted in widespread misconceptions about its inception, its provisions, its scope, its intended effect. Readers of the document... will readily see that it did not proclaim the freedom of all slaves on American soil, or even of all slaves held in rebel territory. Heralded at the time and often since as a humanitarian measure, it was offered by Lincoln strictly as a military measure that was necessary to defeat the forces of secession and preserve the Union, but readers should be aware that it was targeted and timed with great care...
"Emancipation of the slaves had been urged in various quarters from the beginning of the Civil War, but Lincoln resisted such efforts, arguing that the President and Congress had no constitutional right to interfere with slavery in the states. Because he deemed keeping the border states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri in the Union indispensable to preserving the Union, Lincoln was reluctant to do anything about slavery that would tilt these slave-holding states in the direction of the Confederacy. Accordingly, his initial attempts to promote emancipation began in early 1862 with measures to persuade the border states to agree to accept federally mandated compensation for their slaves. When it became clear that these efforts were to be without effect, and when, about the same time, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, Lincoln responded with a message to Congress expressing his reservations about confiscation, and he followed this by writing out for his cabinet the earliest version of the Emancipation Proclamation.
"The reaction of the cabinet to this document was mixed, and Lincoln was in the end persuaded by the advice of his Secretary of State, William H. Seward, to postpone issuance of the proclamation until a major Union victory had been achieved. Following the Battle of Antietam two months later, Lincoln made public his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Where the earliest version of the proposed proclamation had been extremely brief, outlining its emancipation provisions in a single paragraph, the September version was much more detailed. It specified that the President would continue efforts to encourage compensated emancipation and the colonization of freed slaves. It also called attention to acts of Congress that enjoined the U. S. military to protect escaped slaves from being re-enslaved. The deadline for states to cease rebellion and renew their loyalty to the Union was announced as January 1, 1863.
"After extensively re-drafting his proclamation, Lincoln distributed copies of his draft to members of his cabinet on December 30, asking for their suggested revisions and comments. Four copies of this document survive... some of which reflect copies marked for revision by various cabinet members. Except for Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, who submitted his own original version of the Proclamation, the suggested changes of cabinet members were not numerous, and many were incorporated by Lincoln into the final draft.
"Although Lincoln's earliest efforts at emancipation had been exclusively along the lines of compensation to slave owners, and although this element had been a prominent part of his first two versions of the Emancipation Proclamation, no mention whatever is made of compensation in the final version. Even more notable is the conspicuous mention here, for the first time, of the administration's determination henceforth to enlist freed slaves and other African Americans as soldiers.
"The text ... is taken from a lithographic reproduction of Lincoln's original manuscript of the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Except for the ceremonial opening and closing, and the two printed paragraphs pasted in, the original manuscript was entirely in Lincoln's hand. Lincoln reluctantly agreed to allow the original of the manuscript to be sold to benefit the Sanitary Commission, but not before he had three lithographic copies made. This precaution resulted in a clear image of the original manuscript, which was subsequently destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871."
** Tex Source: Library of Congress. To review the text at the Library of Congress you can take this LINK.-Ed.
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