Remembering the Initial Emancipation Proclamation

Sep 28, 2012

"That...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..." We know those words: they're from the opening lines of the Emancipation Proclamation, which upon being issued by President Abraham Lincoln, went into effect January 1, 1863.

"The first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the cabinet," painted by F.B. Carpenter and engraved by A.H. Ritchie
Credit Courtesy of LOC

But many people don't know that these words were actually written 150 years ago this month - Sept. 22nd, 1862, a date included in the famous executive order's text.

The so-called "Great Emancipator" Lincoln had been wanting to issue such a proclamation - in order to urge rebelling states to return to the union, in exchange for requiring the abolition of slavery on them.

But he felt that he needed a military victory to do so - and the gory battles at Antietam five days earlier gave Lincoln the means.

As part of our "Iron Brigade & Beyond" Civil War series, Lake Effect contributor and historian Thomas Martin Sobottke takes us back to the initial Emancipation Proclamation.

Sobottke is the author of the book, Across That Dark River: The Civil War Memory, published by Moving Train Books, LLC. Our Civil War series is produced by Stephanie Lecci. The song we played during our segment was "No More Auction Block For Me" sung by the group Sweet Honey in the Rock.