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Primary Documents in American History

Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation.
The Strobridge Lith. Co., Cincinnati, c1888.
Prints & Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number:

Issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation declared "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." Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery, it did change the basic character of the Civil War. Instead of waging a war to restore the old Union as it was before 1861, the North was now fighting to create a new Union without slavery. The proclamation also authorized the recruitment of African Americans as Union soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, approximately 180,000 African Americans had served in the Union army and 18,000 in the navy.

Library of Congress Web Site | External Web Sites | Selected Bibliography

Digital Collections

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress

The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consists of approximately 20,000 documents, including an essay on Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation.

Major documents in this collection bearing on the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, are as follows:

Search the Abraham Lincoln Papers using the word "emancipation proclamation" to find additional items related to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

This collection contains seventy items related to the Emancipation Proclamation, including government documents, broadsides, and sheet music.

A selection of highlights from this collection includes:

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

This collection contains congressional publications from 1774 to 1875, including debates, bills, laws, and journals.

Search this collection using keywords such as "emancipation", "slavery" and "abolition" to find Congressional information on this this topic.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection

This collection presents 396 pamphlets from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers

Chronicling America

This site allows you to search and view millions of historic American newspaper pages from 1789 to 1924. Search this collection to find newspaper articles about the Emancipation Proclamation.

A selection of articles on the Emancipation Proclamation includes:

In addition, the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room has created a series of topics guides to the newspapers included in Chronicling America, including a guide on the Emancipation Proclamation.


African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship

This exhibition showcases the African American collections of the Library of Congress. Displays more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. Includes a print based on David Gilmore Blythe's painting of Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation.

American Treasures of the Library of Congress - Emancipation Proclamation

This online exhibition contains Lincoln’s first and final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, as well as the final version issued on January 1, 1863. Also included is a letter that Lincoln wrote to Albert G. Hodges in which he states “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”

With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition

This online exhibition commemorates the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the nation’s revered sixteenth president and includes a section on the Emancipation Proclamation.

Today in History

April 16, 1862

President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia on April 16, 1862.

September 22, 1862

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation was issued on September 22, 1862.

Link disclaimerExternal Web Sites

The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Association

Documents from Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867, University of Maryland

The Emancipation Proclamation: An Act of Justice, National Archives and Records Administration

Exhibit Hall, The Emancipation Proclamation, National Archives and Records Administration

“I Will Be Heard!” Abolitionism in America, Cornell University Library

Mr. Lincoln and Freedom, The Lincoln Institute

Our Documents, The Emancipation Proclamation, National Archives and Records Administration

Toward Racial Equality: Harper’s Weekly Reports on Black America, 1857-1874, HarpWeek

Virtual Exhibit, The Emancipation Proclamation, New York State Library

Selected Bibliography

Carnahan, Burrus M. Act of Justice: Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Law of War. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2007. [Catalog Record]

Brewster, Todd. Lincoln's Gamble: The Tumultuous Six Months that Gave America the Emancipation Proclamation and Changed the Course of the Civil War. New York: Scribner, 2014. [Catalog Record]

Franklin, John Hope. The Emancipation Proclamation. Wheeling, Ill.: Harlan Davidson, 1995. [Catalog Record]

Guelzo, Allen C. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America.
New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004. [Catalog Record]

Holzer, Harold. Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context, and Memory. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012. [Catalog Record]

-----, Edna Greene Medford, and Frank J. Williams. The Emancipation Proclamation: Three Views (Social, Political, Iconographic). Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006. [Catalog Record]

-----, and Sara Vaughn Gabbard, eds. Lincoln and Freedom: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Thirteenth Amendment. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2007. [Catalog Record]

Klingaman, William K. Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation, 1861-1865. New York: Viking, 2001. [Catalog Record]

Masur, Louis P. Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012. [Catalog Record]

Younger Readers

Carey, Charles W., Jr. The Emancipation Proclamation. Chanhassen, Minn.: Child's World, 2000. [Catalog Record]

Heinrichs, Ann. The Emancipation Proclamation. Minneapolis, Minn.: Compass Point Books, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Holford, David M. Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation in American History. Berkely Heights, N.J.: Enslow Publishers, 2002. [Catalog Record]

Tackach, James. The Emancipation Proclamation: Abolishing Slavery in the South. San Diego, Calif.: Lucent Books, 1999. [Catalog Record]

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  October 26, 2017
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