September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation

Saturday, September 22, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  Give us a Flag, the unofficial anthem of the United States Colored Troops during the Civil War, written by a private serving in the 54th Massachusetts.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the issuance of the notice by Lincoln of the Emancipation Proclamation, to take effect on January 1, 1863, Lincoln doing so after the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862.  Reaction was, to say the least, mixed.  In the North the abolitionists were enraptured.  Most Northern opinion was favorable, although there was a substantial minority, embodied almost entirely in the Democrat party, that completely opposed this move.  Opinion in the Border States was resoundingly negative.  In the Confederacy the Confederate government denounced the proposed Emancipation Proclamation as a call for a race war.  Today, almost all Americans view the Emancipation Proclamation as a long overdue ending of slavery.  At the time it was very much a step into the unknown, and the consequences impossible to determine.  Lincoln had converted the War for the Union into a War for the Union and against Slavery.  It remained to be seen as to whether the War, whatever its objectives, could be won.  Here is the text of Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation:

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7 Responses to September 22, 1862: Lincoln Issues Notice of Emancipation Proclamation

  • Replace “slave” with “Catholic taxpayer”, “religious believer” and “Catholic Church” and teach respect for freedom.

  • Reaction to the proclamation remains mixed even today, because from a practical, on the ground standpoint, it didn’t free ANY slaves, at least not immediately. It didn’t apply to border slave states still loyal to the Union, nor (in its final form) to Union-occupied areas of the Confederate states. The only areas that it applied to were areas where it wasn’t going to be enforced immediately. Some abolitionists were disappointed in it for that reason. It was a carefully crafted political move — but still a brilliant one. Also, what happened to the part about compensating slave owners who remained loyal to the Union?

  • Lincoln tried for compensated emancipation throughout the War in loyal slave states like Delaware and Kentucky and in offers to the Confederates in exchange for peace and Union. The slaveholders were never interested. By the end of the War slavery was dead, and after all the blood and treasure expended to accomplish that feat, Congress was in no mood to give to slaveowners what they had rejected during the war.

    Lincoln limited the Emancipation Proclamation to areas under Confederate control for several reasons. First, he believed he had no authority to abolish slavery except as a war measure. That is why he successfully pushed for the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery. Second, he did not wish to alienate the loyal slave states.

    In regard to the Emancipation Proclamation it gave Union military commanders in Confederate areas the authority to abolish slavery, something a few of them had already attempted. Wherever the Union armies established control slavery ended. The Confederates understood this, which is why they reacted with such outrage to the Proclamation,

  • It was another in a string of unconstitutional acts by Lincoln. Just because we might like the object of the abuse of power does not make the abuse of power legitimate.

    And yes of course it was an entirely cynical ploy by Lincoln to buttress up flagging support for the war by throwing a moral patina on the business that “preserving the glorious union” did not have.

    Lincoln’s person view was expressed early on when he verified that the war was not about slavery and that he would use that issue only insofar as it would aid in his effort forcibly to unite the country, but that he had no interest in slavery per se as a war aim. After Antietam, to buck up failing domestic support and to ensure non-intervention by European powers, he made the calculated decision that he could indeed use the issue of slavery to advance what he considered the only aim of the war–reunion.

  • Wrong on all points Tom:
    “It was another in a string of unconstitutional acts by Lincoln”

    1. There is nothing unconstitutional about confiscating property in war time that is being used to support the enemy war effort. Slave labor was crucial for the Confederacy. The Confederates contended that slaves were property. Lincoln took them at their word and freed their “property”.

    “to buttress up flagging support for the war by throwing a moral patina on the business that “preserving the glorious union” did not have.”
    2. Incorrect Tom. Support for war for the Union was almost universal in the North except among Copperheads. In the border states it commanded at least 50% support. In the Confederacy support for war for the Union was quite popular in certain regions, especially West Virginia and East Tennessee. Lincoln was taking a big gamble in adding the war aim of the abolition of slavery.

    “Lincoln’s person view was expressed early on when he verified that the war was not about slavery and that he would use that issue only insofar as it would aid in his effort forcibly to unite the country, but that he had no interest in slavery per se as a war aim.”

    Lincoln’s personal view was always that slavery must be abolished. He separated that from his prime duty as President which was to uphold the Union. He expressed this well in his letter to Horace Greeley:

    “Washington, August 22, 1862.

    Hon. Horace Greeley:
    Dear Sir.

    I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

    As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

    I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

    Yours,
    A. Lincoln.”

    Of course at the time that he wrote this Lincoln knew that he was going to Emancipate the slaves and was using this letter skillfully to help butress his argument that the abolition of slavery was necessary for the preservation of the Union

  • Oh, and this is also the 150th anniversary of that *other* unconstitutional act, suspension of habeas corpus, which Lincoln also perpetrated.

    Don, I know you love your fellow Illinois-an, but really. The Constitution is a document which gives the president only limited, *expressed* authority. Declaring the property of every owner in many states to be confiscated, whether or not that property is involved in war, is not a power granted to the president.

    Really, it’s very simple: if the constitution does not *expressly* grant the president a power, he does not have it. No constitutional provision permits the president to declare the property of people forfeited, particularly without any kind of due process.

  • “Oh, and this is also the 150th anniversary of that *other* unconstitutional act, suspension of habeas corpus, which Lincoln also perpetrated.”

    And the suspension of habeus corpus was reaffirmed by Congress when it met in December of 1862. The Constitution clearly allows for the suspension of habeas corpus in the event of invasion or rebellion. I would note that Jefferson Davis also suspended habeas corpus and declared martial law.

    Confiscation of property used against the United States in war time has been upheld time and again by the US Supreme Court. Congress ratified the action of the President by legislation and the country ratified the action of the President by approving the Thirteenth Amendment.