September 22, 1862 — President Lincoln announced today that he will free slaves in all states on January 1, 1863. This preliminary proclamation led to the official Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves residing in territory in rebellion against the federal government.
However, the official proclamation actually freed few people for it did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control. The states in rebellion did not act on Lincoln’s order, but the proclamation did show Americans — and the world — that the civil war was now being fought to end slavery.
Noteworthy is that Lincoln had been reluctant to come to this position. A believer in white supremacy, he initially viewed the war only in terms of preserving the Union. As pressure for abolition mounted in Congress and the country, however, Lincoln became more sympathetic to the idea. Click here to 10 Facts about the Emancipation Proclamation.
Words of Wisdom
. . . on the first day of January . . . 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.