The Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863
By Abraham Lincoln
The nation had just entered the third year of the American Civil War when President
Lincoln made this proclamation. Although it did not immediately free the slaves,
it fundamentally changed the character of the war. Black men were now welcome to
fight for the cause of their own freedom, and for the freedom of others. The liberated
had now become the liberators. Before the war ended, almost 200,000 black men would
"The royal law ...Thou shalt love
thy neighbour as thyself."
~ James 2:8 ~
y the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United
States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated
part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United
States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government
of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize
and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such
persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation,
designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively,
shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State,
or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress
of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of
the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence
of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State,
and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, 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 against the authority and government of the United
States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do,
on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for
the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and
designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively,
are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson,
St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St.
Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama,
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight
counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac,
Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities
of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely
as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare
that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States,
are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United
States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and
maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence,
unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when
allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will
be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions,
stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution,
upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious
favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United
States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight
hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the
United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.