Emancipation Proclamation

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The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War under his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with the rest freed as Union armies advanced.[1] On September 22, 1862, Lincoln announced that he would issue a formal emancipation of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The actual order was signed and issued January 1, 1863; it named the locations under Confederate control where it would apply. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.[2]

Contents

Coverage

The proclamation did not cover the 800,000 slaves in the slave-holding border states of Missouri, Maryland, West Virginia or Delaware, which had never declared a secession; slaves there were freed by separate state and federal actions. The state of Tennessee had already mostly returned to Union control, so it also was not named and was exempted. Virginia was named, but exemptions were specified for the 48 counties that were in the process of forming West Virginia, as well as seven other named counties and two cities. Also specifically exempted were New Orleans and thirteen named parishes of Louisiana, all of which were also already mostly under Federal control at the time of the Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation was ridiculed for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. Over 50,000 were freed the day it went into effect[3] in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception).[4] In every Confederate state (except Tennessee and Texas), the Proclamation went into immediate effect in Union-occupied areas and at least 20,000 slaves[3][4] were freed at once on January 1, 1863.

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