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About the Emancipation Proclamation

1860 Map of the United StatesPresident Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 and became effective on January 1, 1863. It stated that all slaves in states that were rebelling against the Union were free and that the Union military would enforce their freedom.

Since the Confederate states did not recognize Lincoln's authority, they refused to comply and did not liberate their slaves. This allowed Lincoln to change his rhetoric. Whereas he had mainly been calling the war a fight to preserve the Union, he now could refer to it as a fight to spread freedom.

The Proclamation also invited black men to serve in the Union Army and Navy. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union.

The proclamation paved the way for the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (December 1865), which ended slavery in the United States. Today, the original Emancipation Proclamation resides at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.