The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation

Synopsis

While many historians have dealt with the Emancipation Proclamation as a phase or an aspect of the Civil War, few have given more than scant attention to the evolution of the document in the mind of Lincoln, the circumstances and conditions that led to its writing, its impact on the course of the war, and its significance for later generations. Professor John Hope Franklin's answer to this need, first published in 1963, is available again for the first time in many years. This edition includes a new preface, photo essay, and a reproduction of the 1863 handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, making it an ideal supplementary text for U. S. and African American survey courses as well as for more specialized courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Excerpt

Many documents of enduring significance drift in and out of public consciousness almost cyclically. Each time the public renews its acquaintance with the document, there is a determination, not clearly articulated however, that never again will the great work be neglected. Such a time was January 1963, the centennial of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. There were commemorative programs in many parts of the country, reproductions of the document itself were prepared, and there were the appropriate public readings. There were also numerous receptions in honor of the event, the most notable being the one given by President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy at the White House. Meanwhile, several books, written for the occasion, analyzed, commented on, and weighed the impact of the document on the Civil War and the African-American fight for freedom.

The momentum accompanying the centennial observance of the Proclamation’s signing was such that at the time it would have been reasonable to predict that such a commemoration would become at least an annual affair. Within less than a year, however, Americans had put the great document behind them. The same thing would hap-

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