Emancipation Proclamation in the USA


On September 22nd, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln declared the freedom of 3.1million slaves from the existing 4million slaves. Immediately, 50000 slaves received their freedom and the rest to be released with the advancement of the Union armies. For those states that would not have yielded to the union control, Lincoln issued a formal statement to them on the 1st January 1863, naming the locations that the decree would apply. This he gave as commander in chief of the army and navy. This order applied to eleven unrecognized states that had slavery legalized. The order further went to name locations where the emancipation would happen in the unrecognized states (Howard 23). This paper aims at finding out how the emancipation process was carried out and the immediate, political and international impact it had.

Compensation for slave owners

In 1850, some states union generals refused to let go of slaves. This meant that they would continue to be rebellious to the federal government. Those generals who in some cases declared slaves to be free would be replaced immediately. This situation brought friction and something needed to be done. To this effect, Lincoln had to restrict all union officers from returning the slaves. Furthermore, Congress had the duty of decreeing compensation to all those owners who freed their slaves. To add to that, congress went further to ban slavery in the United States.

During all this time civil groups and the public at large were urging the president to free all slaves. It is at this point that mass action was organized in Chicago on September 7, 1862, demanding the emancipation proclamation of all the slaves. Lincoln called a cabinet meeting and for the first time showed his vice president what he had. Thus the first emancipation was proclaimed later on January 1st 1863, the final one was assented to (Foner 10).

For the first time, we see that freed slave’s participated being in the army. Nearly 200,000 blacks participated in the war. It’s good to note though that emancipation did take effect just as the war was starting. Slaves were told of their freedom and there were no incidences between the masters and the slaves.

The effort from civil societies

States that had not been in the unrecognized categories but dealing in slavery were somehow exempted from this process. This was noted in states like Missouri, Maryland, West Virginia or Delaware that had slaves released by state or federal action. Some notable states exempted included, including New Orleans, Tennessee, Louisiana, and even West Virginia who had gone under Federal control. Hence, we can say that this proclamation affected those states that were rebellious to the federal government (Guelzo 23).

Most of the slaves joined unions to help in freeing their fellow slaves in the time of the civil war. As noted, more than 50,000 slaves were freed the day the proclamation went into effect. Furthermore, nearly 20,000 slaves were freed in all the rebellious states except Tennessee and Texas in January 1863. The census report of 1865 says that in that year nearly all the 4 million slaves had been released from slavery (Foner 13).

Freed slaves during the proclamation

However, while it was a major step in freeing the slaves, concerns still remained that slavery had not yet been made banned. This was so because some states were still doing the business not until the thirteen amendments were put into force on the 18th of December 1865.

This news however was not received well by copperhead democrats who wanted restoration of slavery. Lincoln had a major task in gaining majority seats and lost eventually in gaining the majority seats in congress. Internationally the emancipation proclamation was well received with them supporting the end of slavery. Britain and France who were supporters of the democrats but had banned slavery had no reason but to support President Lincoln.

The abolitionists

During the campaigns, abolitionists urged President Lincoln to completely ban slavery in the United States. After his re-election, he pressured Congress to pass this emancipation proclamation by December 6th 1865 and went on to be proclaimed after 12 days (Smith 16).

However, on the death of Lincoln, it’s argued that the emancipation proclamation was a complete waste since black people suffered at the hands of the white. Racism was on the rise and so people see this as a waste. On the positive side, others see Lincoln’s work as a great achievement in bringing equality to the United States.


In the synopsis, we see that generals in the Union army refused to let go of slaves in the early days and those who refused were sacked. Second, the abolitionists played a major role in fighting for the release of slaves in the United States. Again we see that for the first time, black people were entrenched into the army. However, all didn’t go well with President Lincoln’s party as he lost the majority in congress. President Abraham Lincoln was so bold in bringing the necessary change required. In my view, I see slavery as a crime against humanity. People who subject others to the slavery of any kind should be generally apprehended. Were it not for Lincoln, I wonder where the world would be right now. Who knows if the blacks could own any kind of wealth? I applaud all those who made sure that the emancipation proclamation took place because it helped millions of defenseless people get their freedom.

Works Cited

Foner, Eric. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. New York, NY: Norton, 2010. Print.

Guelzo, Allen C. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. New York, NY: Simon &Schuster, 2004. Print.

Howard, Jones. Abraham Lincoln and the New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.1999. Print

Smith, Denis. Garibaldi (Great Lives Observed). Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice Hall, 1969. Print.

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