By: Scott C. IdlemanPosted on December 26, 2012December 27, 2012Categories polite Rights, constitution, traditions of Lincoln, legit History, president & executive, management Branch, Public

January 1, 2013, point out the 150th anniversary of president Lincoln’s last Emancipation Proclamation, which claimed the flexibility of slaves in rebellious states. The decree was controversial in Lincoln’s time and also seems regularly to be misunderstood in ours. The target of this blog post, accordingly, is to inspection the context, chronology, and results of the Proclamation together we observe the sesquicentennial that its issuance.

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The Context—Summer 1861 through fall 1862

Through the latter fifty percent of 1861 and well into 1862, it was no at all self-evident the the Union would win the civil War. An especially in the east, the many symbolic armed forces theater, the Confederate military secured numerous victories or military stalemates, the latter of i m sorry were essentially as useful for it as the former. Despite having premium financial and also industrial resources, the Union Army’s deficit of wild battlefield leadership, absence of well-trained or jug troops, and comparative unfamiliarity v the terrain continuously hampered Union armed forces actions.

Lincoln to be painfully cognizant of this problems, specifically the to work timidity of his top brass, purportedly remarking in ~ one point that if general George B. McClellan was not going to use the military of the Potomac, Lincoln “would prefer to loaned it, provided he can see just how it can be do to perform something.” president Lincoln likewise knew that popular support because that the war, together casualties placed and the possibility of national conscription loomed, might not lengthy endure without visible Union success in the east. In ~ the exact same time, the president was mindful that the Confederacy was seeking the recognition and material assistance of European nations such together England and also France, and also that every Confederate victory showed up to make this objective much more attainable.

It to be this selection of circumstances, among others, that triggered President Lincoln to take it the manifestly drastic action of issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Only against this political and military backdrop, in fact, have the right to the Proclamation and also its time be completely comprehended. In order to describe why this is so, it is important to walk through the events leading up to the Proclamation and then to study the substance and also scope that the Proclamation itself.

The Chronology preceding the last Proclamation

Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He thought about slavery a moral abomination and also a national curse, and also he opposed its ar expansion. However, whether for political or various other reasons, the did not publicly support its elimination. As he reaffirmed in his very first inaugural resolve of in march 4, 1861, through which time the seven states comprising the lower South had currently seceded, Lincoln had “no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the college of enslavement in the claims where it exists,” he “believe no medtox.orgful appropriate to perform so, and no inclination to execute so.”

Even in the loss of 1862, once the Emancipation Proclamation was being finalized, the president famously explained in an open letter to abolitionist newspaper editor Horace Greeley: “My paramount object in this struggle is to conserve the Union, and is not either to save or to damage slavery. If I could save the Union without releasing any slave I would perform it, and if I can save it by releasing all the servants I would perform it; and also if I can save it by releasing some and also leaving others alone i would likewise do that.”

To it is in sure, the Emancipation Proclamation itself to be abolitionist just in a very limited sense, and it certainly did not purport come abolish enslavement throughout the land. As David Papke recently commented in a blog post on the movie Lincoln, the Proclamation have the right to be ideal understood “chiefly as a battle measure . . . .” for this reason it is no surprising that among Lincoln’s cabinet members, one of the most receptive to the Proclamation to be Secretary of war Edwin M. Stanton, who instantly perceived its logistical potential: the Confederate war initiative would be deprived of servant labor while the Union army might be gave with additional troops. (Stanton was additionally himself anti-slavery and also thus no doubt favored that on moral grounds together well.)

More generally, the Proclamation was came before by countless congressional enactments, proposals by members of Congress, and also unilateral action by Union officers that explicitly taken on the strategic armed forces value of interfering with slavery in the Confederacy. On august 6, 1861, for example, conference enacted its an initial Confiscation Act, which authorized Union troops to seize and also liberate slaves who had been supplied in support of the Confederate war effort. Later that same month, the rather capricious john C. Frémont, commanding the Army’s department of the West, approve an bespeak emancipating the servants in the state that Missouri. (Frémont was structure on the precedent of Benjamin Butler, who seized fugitive slaves within his lines as “contrabands that war” when commanding ft Monroe in Virginia, though Butler’s plan was properly ratified by the very first Confiscation Act.) Importantly, Lincoln revoked Frémont’s stimulate (as well as his command), pertained to that Frémont’s declaration might prompt Missouri and also other slaveholding border says to join the Confederacy.

In might 1862, major General David Hunter—who took end Frémont’s command however was then given control of the department of the South—issued his general Order No. 11, i beg your pardon simultaneously claimed martial and also emancipated the servants in the says of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. Chairman Lincoln rapidly revoked Hunter’s order as well, once again concerned around the impact of together declarations ~ above the border states, specifically Maryland, which incorporated the ar of Columbia.

Two month later, Lincoln self then (for a 3rd time) urged the congressmen of these border states to ago a plan of incremental and compensated emancipation, explaining the emancipation could otherwise it is in immediate and without recompense. Together before, however, castle rejected his plan. Over about the following week, two an essential events climate transpired in quick succession. ~ above July 17, congress passed its second Confiscation Act, essentially releasing the servants belonging to all persons who aided or sustained the Confederacy. And on July 22, president Lincoln notified his room of his intent to issue an emancipation proclamation (an event recorded in the paint at the outset that this post—Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s First reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by president Lincoln (1864)).

The Cabinet to be markedly split over the President’s proposal—some members were quite taken aback—though Lincoln made well-known his resoluteness ~ above the matter. Lincoln further indicated, however, the he would not publicly issue the proclamation until after there had been a coherent Union victory, presumably one in the east theater. (The delayed issuance, pending military success, was specifically urged by Secretary that State william Seward, who feared the the Proclamation might otherwise seem favor a desperate measure by a militarily failing North.)

On September 22, 1862, adhering to the ostensible Union win at the fight of Antietam (or Sharpsburg), Lincoln issued his so-called preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, i beg your pardon warned Confederate says that if they go not go back to the Union by January 1, 1863—100 work hence—then “all persons hosted as slaves within any State . . . Shall it is in then, thenceforward, and also forever free; and the executive federal government of the united States, including the military and also naval authority thereof, will recognize and also maintain the liberty of together persons . . . .” Predictably, perhaps, no rebellious state returned to the Union during the succeeding 100 days.

The last Proclamation

In accordance with the terms of the preliminary Proclamation, chairman Lincoln ~ above January 1, 1863, authorize his final Emancipation Proclamation, which was efficient upon that issuance. Similar to the preliminary Proclamation, it ordered and also declared “that all persons organized as servants within . . . Designated States, and parts that States, are, and also henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the unified States, consisting of the military and naval authorities thereof, will certainly recognize and also maintain the flexibility of said persons.”

Lincoln specifically issued the Proclamation pursuant come his “power . . . Together Commander-in-Chief, the the Army and Navy that the united States over time of actual armed rebellion versus the authority and government that the joined States, and as a fit and necessary battle measure for suppressing stated rebellion . . . .” toward the finish of the Proclamation, Lincoln further added that “upon this act, sincerely thought to it is in an plot of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon army necessity, i invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and also the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

The “designated States” come which the Proclamation applied were ten in number—Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, southern Carolina, phibìc Carolina, and also Virginia—with particular exceptions that will certainly be provided shortly. Together structured, the Proclamation emancipated slaves only in locations formally allied through the Confederacy and also not under Union control. Much from putting an finish to slavery, in various other words, it decreed the freedom of servants where the Union had the the very least practical capability of effecting together emancipation. As summarized by a an important editorial in the New York Herald, “hile the Proclamation leaves enslavement untouched wherein decree deserve to be enforced, the emancipates servants where his decree cannot be enforced.”

This, the course, is the central paradox that the Emancipation Proclamation and also is more than likely the attribute most misapprehended by those who today conceive of the decree as a foundational abolitionist document. In Lincoln’s mind, however, the reasonable of the Proclamation’s scope to be straightforward: the structure basically protected slavery (whether as an college or through home rights), and also thus he short the authority to prohibit that under ordinary circumstances, however the problem of rebellion in the ten designated states enabled the emancipation of slaves as a “as a fit and also necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion . . . .”

Lincoln likewise believed the emancipation would not sit well with many in the North uneven it to be framed together a militarily essential enterprise, and even framed thus would probably still be too radical because that some. As detailed in relation to the revocation of the orders by Generals Frémont and also Hunter, Lincoln was particularly concerned around the result of emancipation policies on the condition of the border claims of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Demedtox.orgare, some of which had actually sizable slave populations. This problem would further explain, in enhancement to Lincoln’s constitutional understanding, why the Emancipation Proclamation left enslavement in these states undisturbed.

Due come its inapplicability to locations plausibly under Union control, also within Confederate states the Proclamation’s reach had actually some far-reaching limitations. By its refer terms, for example, the did not influence slavery in fifty-five counties in the commonwealth of Virginia, basically those in and also around the Virginia Peninsula (a major region the Union military activity) as well as those that the soon-to-be-state that West Virginia, the statehood documents of which additionally did not carry out for universal and immediate emancipation. No one did the Proclamation impact slavery in thirteen Louisiana parishes, consisting of the city of brand-new Orleans, which were under Union manage as that the date of the Proclamation.

Nor, finally, did it impact slavery in Tennessee, which was simply omitted indigenous the listing of states to which the Proclamation applied. Despite a member state the the Confederacy, Tennessee’s western an ar in 1862 came significantly under Union control, if its eastern region was heavily populated through pro-Unionists. In addition, Andrew Johnson, at that time the Lincoln-appointed army governor the Tennessee (and in 1864 Lincoln’s to run mate), had actually specifically request Lincoln to exempt Tennessee native the Proclamation. (Many many thanks to my colleague Gordon Hylton because that explaining to me the instance in Tennessee.)

Other vital features that the last Emancipation Proclamation space the ways in which the differed indigenous the preliminary variation of September 1862. Two such differences will be noted here. The an initial concerned the fate of emancipated former slaves. Lincoln had for numerous years favored the resettlement that emancipated slaves at one offshore nest (as had occurred at Liberia under the auspices that the American colonization Society), and also his preliminary Proclamation embraced “the effort to colonize persons of afri descent, through their consent, upon this continent, or somewhere else . . . .”

Though Lincoln himself did no abandon such an effort until at the very least 1864 (after a Caribbean colonization experiment failed), the emigration option to be not had in his last version that the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln did implore the newly-freed previous slaves “to abstain from all violence, unless in crucial self-defence” and, “in all cases when allowed, . . . job faithfully for reasonable wages,” thereby indirectly incorporating involves that often urged advocacy of colonization. Yet from the final Emancipation Proclamation forward, colonization no longer showed up to be a component of Lincoln’s publicly stance concerning the destiny of former slaves (though a recent publication by Phillip Magness and also Sebastian Page, title Colonization after ~ Emancipation: Lincoln and the activity for black color Resettlement (2011), and also summarized below by Page, indicates that the did not altogether give up top top the option).

A second difference between the preliminary and also final versions came to Union military company by emancipated previous slaves. In the preliminary Proclamation, no recommendation is made to previous slaves probably serving in the Union army, even though congress in July had listed for such service through the Militia plot of 1862. In the final Emancipation Proclamation, by contrast, Lincoln claimed that emancipated previous slaves “of suitable condition, will certainly be received into the armed service that the United claims to garrison forts, positions, stations, and also other places, and also to male vessels of all sorts in said service.”

This provision is noteworthy in its own right, however it is specifically so in light of a proclamation authorize one week prior through Confederate president Jefferson Davis, declaring that “all black slaves caught in arms” would certainly not be treated as detainees of war however instead would certainly “be at once delivered over come the executive, management authorities the the corresponding States come which they belong to be encountered according come the legislations of claimed States.” This presumably intended an eventual sentence the death, if indeed the soldiers made it turn off the battlefield. (The very same fate applied to “all commissioned policemans of the United says when discovered serving in company with armed slaves in insurrection against the authorities the the different States the this Confederacy.”)

The influence and legacy of the Emancipation Proclamation

In the quick term, the Emancipation Proclamation did no automatically cost-free any slaves, yet it go remove constraints on Union pressures when encountering slaves in the designated locations and, correspondingly, it motivated slaves (if mindful of the Proclamation) come “self-emancipate” by attempting to with Union lines.

Also in the brief term, the Proclamation nearly certainly undermined the Confederacy’s initiative to obtain recognition by England or France. As it turns out, the likelihood that obtaining such recognition was overestimated at the outset (e.g., the Confederacy misjudged British dependence on its cotton), and also Union military successes in the latter half of 1863 such as Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Chattanooga—let alone those the 1864—would probably have been enough by themselves to deter foreign recognition and support.

For the remainder of the civil War, moreover, the Proclamation efficiently though not automatically transformed the Union’s conception that the conflict from having actually one major objective (restoration that the Union) to having two (restoration and emancipation). The time of Lincoln’s preliminary and final Proclamations was largely a prudential calculation, based upon his assessment that by autumn 1862 there were enough civilization in the phibìc who can accept emancipation, if no as an live independence objective, at least as a necessary means of restoring the Union. Over time, and certainly over subsequent decades, the popular understanding was and also has been that emancipation was much more than a method to an finish and, instead, to be an finish in itself.

Lastly, emancipation set the stage for the proposal and also ratification the the 13th Amendment. Having effectively decreed an end to enslavement in the rebellious states, and also even though the measure to be justified by armed forces necessity, the joined States can not easily enable the school of enslavement to persist elsewhere within its boundaries once the Confederacy was defeated. On December 6, 1865, the requisite number of states ratified the 13th Amendment, and also on December 18 it to be officially asserted to be part of the Constitution, hence forever prohibiting slavery everywhere within the united States.

Further Reading

Burrus M. Carnahan, Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and also the regulation of War (2007).

Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and also American Slavery (2010).

Allen C. Guelzo, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The end of enslavement in America (2004).

Louis P. Masur, Lincoln’s hundreds Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the battle for the Union (2012).

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Richard Slotkin, The lengthy Road to Antietam: just how the polite War came to be a Revolution (2012).