1 minute read

Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation

By the President of the United States of America

President ABRAHAM LINCOLN supported the U.S. CIVIL WAR to preserve the Union, not to end SLAVERY. Though he was personally opposed to slavery, he had been elected on a platform that pledged the continuation of slavery in states where it already existed. Wartime pressures, however, drove Lincoln toward emancipation of the slaves. Military leaders argued that an enslaved labor force in the South allowed the Confederate states to place more soldiers on the front lines. By the summer of 1862, Lincoln had prepared an EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION,but he did not want to issue it until Union armies had had greater success on the battlefield. He feared that otherwise the proclamation might be seen as a sign of weakness.

The Union army's victory at the Battle of Antietam encouraged the president to issue a preliminary proclamation on September 22, 1862, that announced the abolition of slavery in areas occupied by the Confederacy effective January 1, 1863. The wording of the Emancipation Proclamation on that date made clear that slavery would still be tolerated in the border states and areas occupied by Union troops, so as not to jeopardize the war effort. Lincoln was uncertain that the Supreme Court would uphold the constitutionality of his action, so he lobbied Congress to adopt the THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT, which totally abol ished slavery.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationHistorical Legal Documents and Landmark Speeches