Our country’s history is full of important documents that helped to make our country what it is today. One of these important documents is the Emancipation Proclamation.
What is the Emancipation Proclamation?
The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862, by President Abraham Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War. It was actually comprised of two executive orders, one preliminary and the other the actual Emancipation Proclamation. The preliminary order declared that all slaves in any state in the Confederacy would be granted freedom if that state did not join the Union.
No states, however, took Lincoln up on this offer. As a result, a second order, the Emancipation Proclamation, was issued. This one stated that all slaves, regardless of whether or not they were in the Confederate states, would be issued freedom. At the time, the Emancipation Proclamation came under attack as it freed slaves in the states that the Union had no power over yet.
The states that did hold slaves but were not required to free them included Virginia and the border states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia.
Talk of issuing such an order began years before it was actually issued. Lincoln had always had the goal of gradually freeing slaves, but it was an idea that did not receive much support. The President and his cabinet decided to issue the Emancipation Proclamation after a victory in battle, so it would not look like an act of desperation on their part. As a result, it was issued shortly after the Union’s defeat at the Battle of Antietam.
What are the results of the Emancipation Proclamation?
Contrary to what many people believe, the Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free the slaves. Instead, it only freed the slaves who were living in states not under the control of the Union. So technically, it only freed those slaves who could not be reached because they were living in States where the Emancipation Proclamation could not really be enforced. This was done, in part, so that the slave states who were loyal to the Union were not provoked.
There were other results of the Emancipation Proclamation, including:
• Slaves had the right to fight in the war. Under the Emancipation Proclamation, black soldiers or slaves who had escaped to the North were now allowed to fight for the Union. Some 200,000 freed slaves and other black men joined the Union army. This gave the Union some much-needed man power.
• Slavery as an issue was now tied directly to the war. Another common misconception about the Civil War was that it was fought entirely to free the slaves. This is not the case. The Civil War was initially fought to prevent the Southern states from seceding. Conflicting opinions over slavery were definitely a cause, but ending slavery was not a main goal of the War. The Emancipation Proclamation, however, made it a goal.
• It was politically a smart move. Because the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in states that were in rebellion, it was a smart move politically by showing slaves that the Union was on their side. This in turn caused many freed slaves to fight with the Union.
The results of the Emancipation Proclamation were many and helped the Union States to achieve victory in the Civil War.