This month marks the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Signed by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the document states, in part:
. . . [O]n 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; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom . . . .
Lincoln invoked his constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to institute a necessary war measure against the rebellion of southern states. The “military necessity” was to deprive the rebelling states of labor resources thereby weakening the Confederate Army. (See Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War, by Burrus M. Carnahan, for a detailed discussion of Lincoln’s legal theory).
Some interesting resources about Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation include:
- The Library of Congress Webguide on the Emancipation Proclamation
- National Archives, Our Documents Collection, Emancipation Proclamation
- New York State Library, Virtual Exhibit, The Emancipation Proclamation