Emancipation~The First Step

Buoyed by the moderate Union success at the Battle of Antietam on the 17th of September, President Lincoln on September 22nd issues his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in which he states Federal objectives in the war and declares that in any state remaining in rebellion on January 1st of 1863, all slaves shall be legally free persons. The full text follows.

President Lincoln

By the President of the United States of America A Proclamation

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States and the people thereof in which States that relation is or my be suspended or disturbed.

 

illustration from Harper’s Weekly

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent with their consent upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be continued.

 That on the 1st day of January, A. D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of 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.

That the Executive will on the 1st day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State or the people thereof shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not then in rebellion against the United States.

 

copy for public distribution

That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled “An act to make an additional article of war,” approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figure following;

 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the Army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such:

 ART. –. All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due, and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.

 SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.

 Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled “An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes.” approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:

 SEC. 9 And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army, and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them and coming under the control of the Government of the United States, and all slaves of such persons found on (or) being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war and shall beforever free of their servitude and not again held as slaves.

 

anti-Lincoln cartoon from the British magazine PUNCH, portraying Lincoln as the devil attempting a last ditch effort to save the Union by encouraging slave revolts

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia from any other State shall be delivered up or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty except for crime or some offense against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion not in any way given aid and comfort thereto, and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretense whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person or surrender up any such person to the claimant on pain of being dismissed from the service.

 And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce within their respective spheres of service the act and sections above recited.

 

an American artist depicts a black man reading the proclamation

And the Executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion shall, upon the restoration the constitutional relation between the United States and theirrespective States and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed, be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.

 

abolitionist art work

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

 Done at the city of Washington, this 22d day of September, A.D. 1862, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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