In 1863, on Jan. 1, President Abraham Lincoln came with the Emancipation Proclamation.
This announced that, within the rebellious areas, every person held as a slave should be free.
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In the beginning, the Civil War (a North-South conflict) was because the North didn’t want the Southern states to secede, and they wanted to protect the Union. And though the sectional conflict regarding slavery had played a major role in the war, ending slavery had not been a goal as such.
Then, on September 22, 1862, all of this changed when President Lincoln produced his ‘Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.’ This proclamation stated clearly that every slave in states (and in parts thereof) that were still rebellious as of January 1, 1863, shall be declared free.
So just over three months, while the rebellion was still unabated, Lincoln brought the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all individuals that were kept as slaves in all rebellious areas must be free men.
This was a bold step; Lincoln meant to change the war’s goals. It was actually a measure of military nature that came only a few days after the Battle of Antietam, which was victorious for the Union.
With the Proclamation, Lincoln was hoping to inspire all slaves and blacks, especially in the areas of Confederacy rule, to support the cause of the Union and to keep France and England from giving military support and political recognition to the Confederacy.
However, because of its military nature, the effects of the Emancipation Proclamation were limited in several ways. First, it was only applying to those states that had abandoned the American Union, which left the slaves in the loyal border states untouched.
Secondly, it also exempted those portions of the Confederacy that were already under the control of the Union. But most importantly, the freedom the Declaration promised, was dependent on a military victory for the Union.
The Emancipation Proclamation has not really ended slavery across America, but what it did was fundamentally transform this war’s character. After January 1, 1863, Federal troops advanced and expanded the realm of freedom.
And also important, this Proclamation made the acceptance of colored individuals to the Army & Navy of the Union possible, which meant the liberated could become liberators.
When the war had come to an end, nearly 200,000 blacks had been fighting for the sake of the Union and freedom as soldiers and sailors.
From the early days of the American Civil War, slaves were fighting for their liberty, and the Emancipation Proclamation was confirming that the war needed to become a war for freedom for the Union.
This added some moral force to the cause of the Union and was strengthening the Union both politically and militarily.
The Emancipation Proclamation can be seen as a milestone along the road to the final destruction of slavery, so we can give it a prominent place among the key documents relating to human freedom.
Last Updated on February 15, 2024.