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Henry Louis Stephens, untitled watercolor (c. 1863) of a black man reading a newspaper with headline "Presidential Proclamation/Slavery".
Abraham Lincoln, Brooklyn Museum

The Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. In a single stroke, it changed the federal legal status of more than 3 million enslaved persons in the designated areas of the South from "slave" to "free". It had the practical effect that as soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the slave became legally free. Eventually it reached and liberated all of the designated slaves. It was issued as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States.<ref>Political scientist Brian R. Dirck states: "The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order, itself a rather unusual thing in those days. Executive orders are simply presidential directives issued to agents of the executive department by its boss." {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref>

It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten states that were still in rebellion.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Because it was issued under the President's war powers, it necessarily excluded areas not in rebellion - it applied to more than 3 million of the 4 million slaves in the U.S. at the time. The Proclamation was based on the president's constitutional authority as commander in chief of the armed forces;<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> it was not a law passed by Congress. The Proclamation also ordered that suitable persons among those freed could be enrolled into the paid service of United States' forces, and ordered the Union Army (and all segments of the Executive branch) to "recognize and maintain the freedom of" the ex-slaves. The Proclamation did not compensate the owners, did not outlaw slavery, and did not grant citizenship to the ex-slaves (called freedmen). It made the eradication of slavery an explicit war goal, in addition to the goal of reuniting the Union.<ref>{{#invoke:Footnotes|harvard_citation_no_bracket}}</ref> Around 20,000 to 50,000 slaves in regions where rebellion had already been subdued were immediately emancipated. It could not be enforced in areas still under rebellion, but as the Union army took control of Confederate regions, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for freeing more than 3 million slaves in those regions. Prior to the Proclamation, in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, escaped slaves were either returned to their masters or held in camps as contraband for later return. The Proclamation applied only to slaves in Confederate-held lands; it did not apply to those in the four slave states that were not in rebellion (Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri, which were unnamed), nor to Tennessee (unnamed but occupied by Union troops since 1862) and lower Louisiana (also under occupation), and specifically excluded those counties of Virginia soon to form the state of West Virginia. Also specifically excluded (by name) were some regions already controlled by the Union army. Emancipation in those places would come after separate state actions and/or the December 1865 ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery and indentured servitude, except for those duly convicted of a crime, illegal everywhere subject to United States jurisdiction.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>

On September 22, 1862, Lincoln had issued a preliminary proclamation warning that he would order the emancipation of all slaves in any state that did not end its rebellion against the Union by January 1, 1863. None of the Confederate states restored themselves to the Union, and Lincoln's order, signed and issued January 1, 1863, took effect. The Emancipation Proclamation outraged white Southerners (and their sympathizers) who envisioned a race war, angered some Northern Democrats, energized anti-slavery forces, and undermined forces in Europe that wanted to intervene to help the Confederacy.<ref>Allan Nevins, Ordeal of the Union: vol 6. War Becomes Revolution, 1862–1863 (1960) pp. 231–41, 273</ref> The Proclamation lifted the spirits of African Americans both free and slave. It led many slaves to escape from their masters and get to Union lines to obtain their freedom.

The Emancipation Proclamation broadened the goals of the Civil War. While slavery had been a major issue that led to the war, Lincoln's only mission at the start of the war was to maintain the Union. The Proclamation made freeing the slaves an explicit goal of the Union war effort. Establishing the abolition of slavery as one of the two primary war goals served to deter intervention by Britain and France.<ref name="Howard Jones 1999">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}</ref> The Emancipation Proclamation was never challenged in court. To ensure the abolition of slavery in all of the U.S., Lincoln pushed for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Congress passed it by the necessary two-thirds vote on January 31, 1865, and it was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>


Emancipation Proclamation sections
Intro  Authority  Coverage  Background  Drafting and issuance of the proclamation  Implementation  Gettysburg Address  Postbellum  Critiques  Legacy in the Civil Rights Era  In popular culture  See also  Notes  Further reading  External links  

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