When Lincoln Announced the Emancipation Proclamation

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On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect and millions of slaves in the Confederate states were freed by President Lincoln’s order. Lincoln actually announced his intentions in a preliminary order on September 22, 1862, saying he would issue the Proclamation on New Year’s Day and thus giving states at war with the United States a chance to rejoin the Union.

Lincoln originally told his Cabinet about his intentions to free the slaves in Confederate states in the summer of 1862, but felt he needed to announce it in the wake of a great military victory for the Union. In September of 1862, Union forces routed the Confederates at the Battle of Antietam and five days later President Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation putting the country on notice that he would free the slaves in Confederate States on January 1, 1863. This action clinched President Lincoln’s legacy as the Great Emancipator and he became a symbol of freedom to people all over the world. Lincoln’s legacy as President, taking bold action in the name of liberty, is reflected today in conservative principles: personal freedom, ensuring all Americans are treated equally and ensuring every American has the ability and opportunity to pursue the American Dream.