The Emancipation Proclamation was a proclamation made by President Abraham Lincoln first in 1862 and then added on to in 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation has two different parts, both of which will be explained in the notes that follow. There have been many other movements, rights granted and even an amendment that came about as a result of the changes that were set in motion by the Emancipation Proclamation.
1. Freedom of all slaves
The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one was issued September 22, 1862, and it declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the then Confederate States of America.
2. The naming of specific states
Not all slaves were freed until the second of the two executive orders was issued on January 1, 1863. This order named the specific states where the Emancipation Proclamation applied. There were many attacks made at this time as the Emancipation Proclamation freed only the slaves over which the Union had no power.
3. Use of the U.S. Constitution
The status of America as an independent union was still very young at this time. Lincoln had to exercise the rights that he had as “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy” to carry out an executive order under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.
4. No freedom for many a wave of escapee slaves
The states originally included in the Emancipation Proclamation were mainly northern states. Border states and southern states were still allowed to have slaves. After hearing about the freedoms available in the northern states, slaves quickly escaped to Union lines.
5. Debate as to whether or not the Proclamation was just a war effort
After the war there was much concern over the fact that many believed that the freeing of the slaves was just a strategy of war and that slavery would again resume when the fighting was over. To ensure their freedom, several former slave states passed legislation prohibiting slavery.
6. Thirteenth Amendment
It would take some time to end slavery in the United States all together. Slavery continued to exist legally in some areas until a sufficient number of states ratified the Thirteenth Amendment which once and for all gave the official legal end to slavery on December 18, 1865.
7. The Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam is an important part of the Emancipation Proclamation as it gave Abraham Lincoln the opportunity, as this was a decisive battle, to issue a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862. The final proclamation was issued in January 1863.
8. Military power
The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed for the enrollment of freed slaves into the United States military. During the war nearly 200,000 blacks joined the Union Army. The great majority of those black men were former slaves. Naturally their involvement was a significant contributor to winning the war.
9. Surprising acceptance
Slaves were overjoyed at hearing that they would be freed and surprisingly owners of these slaves in general were not violent about the order to free the slaves.
10. Political impact
Lincoln was not liked by very many Democrats in America at the time that the Proclamation was issued. Those opposed to the Emancipation saw Lincoln’s executive order as a cowardly and hypocritical war move, of which the northern states would be able to receive great benefit. The southern states would not have the benefit of the additional manpower of the former slaves in their states until the Confederate war had mostly been lost. Internationally, the move to end slavery was received very well, especially by those countries who had already proclaimed themselves to be slave free.