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The Emancipation Proclamation

Uploaded by mita on Apr 23, 2001

The Emancipation Proclamation led to the end of slavery, and is one of the most controversial documents in American history.

Human slavery was the focus of political conflict in the United States from the 1830s to the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for presidency in 1860, personally abhorred slavery and was pledged to prevent it from spreading to western territories. At the same time he believed that the Constitution did not allow federal government to prohibit slavery in states where it already existed.

The election of Lincoln led to the secession of eleven slave-holding states and the beginning of the civil war. The states feared Lincoln would restrict their right to do as they chose about the question of black and white, so they went about creating the Confederate South. Four slave-holding states remained in the Union however; Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware.

During the first part of the war, abolitionists and some military leaders urged Lincoln to issue a proclamation freeing the slaves. They argued that such a policy would benefit the North because slaves were contributing greatly to the Confederate war effort. By doing most of the South’s farming and factory work, slaves made whites available for the Confederate army. But still Lincoln feared that him freeing the slaves would divide the North, he believed that the four slave-holding states would secede if he adopted such a policy, and he saw them as vital to the survival of the Union

By 1862 large numbers of slaves were escaping and seeking refuge with Union armies. Lincoln recognized that the extraordinary pressure of the war was gradually destroying the institution of slavery, even without legal emancipation.

In July 1862 Lincoln read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet. One of his ministers suggested that the President wait to issue it until after the Union victory, so that it would not sound like the last desperate act of a loosing government. Lincoln agreed and waited for his generals to win the war.

The battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862, was the bloodiest single day of the war. Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army retreated after the battle, allowing Union general George B. McClellan to claim victory. Five days later, on September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that if the rebelling states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would declare...

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Uploaded by:   mita

Date:   04/23/2001

Category:   American History

Length:   3 pages (645 words)

Views:   2068

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