Question of the Week: 1/6-1/15/19

The Emancipation Proclamation made promises and history moments. What do you think is the most significant part of that document?

(And if you want to review the primary source text of the outline, promises, and national changes, check it out here on the National Archives website.)

2 Responses to Question of the Week: 1/6-1/15/19

  1. The key words are “thenceforward, and forever free” but they are contradicted by qualifications: The words apply only to “slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States,” which are specifically listed. The proclamation also specifies that states properly represented in congress by duly elected representatives shall not be considered “in rebellion.” This implies that a state in rebellion can return to the fold. Therefore, freedom is not necessarily “thenceforward and forever.” I’m sure he understood the contradiction but put the words in as a cherished goal. It was the best he could constitutionally do “by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion.” It was a revolutionary act and a magnificent step toward the 13th Amendment.

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