The Emancipation Proclamation
"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.” One hundred and forty-six years ago, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed freedom to 20,000 to 50,000 slaves who lived in Confederacy controlled areas of the United States.
Although President Lincoln originally entered into the Civil War to protect and reunite the Union, freeing the slaves living within areas under his control soon became an important war objective for the Commander in Chief. In December of 1861, President Lincoln proposed to Congress the freedom of slaves living in Union states the purchase of their own freedom through federal taxes. He also commended the free labor system and believed in the value of human rights over property rights. Lincoln’s opinions at the time were controversial. Many believed that banning forced labor would ruin the economy. However, Congress sided with President Lincoln, and on April 10th, 1862 Congress stated that any slave owner who freed their slaves would be compensated. This was a major step into the liberation of slaves living in the United States. The Union, led by Lincoln, continued to make progress when legislation passed outlawing slavery in United State controlled territories. This legislation opposed the notion that Congress was unable to regulate slavery. After the groundwork for the freeing of slaves in U.S. territories had been put into place, Lincoln determined that the emancipation of slaves in Confederate controlled areas was necessary to put an end to the secession. He also felt it was constitutionally warranted by his powers as Commander in Chief. So on July 22nd, 1862, members of Lincoln’s cabinet met to hear the first draft of the President’s Emancipation...
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