The Importance of the Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation was delivered by Abraham Lincoln at the start of the third year of the Civil War. The purpose of the Civil War was to bring back into the Union those states that had decided to withdraw as a result of disagreement about slavery.
As defined by the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, all states had entered into a contract with each other that could not be violated. That contract mandated that the signers and their states agreed to remain as a Union.
The secession of the Southern states violated this contract and therefore the Federal government stepped in to ensure an unbroken Union. The Civil War was focused on keeping the states together - not on eliminating slavery, at least at first.
By the end of the second year of the war, President Lincoln determined that he needed to change his strategy in order to win the war. The prime element that motivated the secession of the South was the issue of slavery.
By changing the focus of the war to a war designed to end slavery, instead of just a war to keep the union together, Lincoln was able to garner more popular support for the war.
His Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves in the South, but it did begin the first steps to slaves attaining that freedom. It proclaimed that all men were entitled to their freedom and that when the Union army liberated the states from the rule of the Confederacy, slaves in those states would be free.
The Effect of the Emancipation Proclamation
Lincoln could not enforce his promises at the time and wouldn't be able to unless the North experienced military success in battle. This meant the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t affect the status of slaves. Blacks that lived in the North already were free men before the Proclamation, as those states had outlawed slavery before, and slaves in the South couldn't be freed until the North won the war....
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