Thursday, January 17, 2013

Commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln, A Proclamation (1862). Manuscript.
In addition to printed copies of the final Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, and a September 1862 “preliminary” Proclamation, giving the Confederacy 100 days’ notice of the President’s intention to end slavery, the Library Company possesses a rare manuscript copy in Abraham Lincoln’s hand from July 25, 1862. In it he warns rebels that they risked forfeiting their property, implicitly including their enslaved human property, unless they surrendered. A predecessor to the Emancipation Proclamation, this document marks an important instance of Lincoln wielding his presidential authority to strike a blow against slavery.

The penultimate document is currently on display in the Library Company’s Logan Room, together with a collection of related publications and news items, including coverage of a commemoration of the September document by noted abolitionists decades after the Civil War. The manuscript Proclamation will be installed on January 28, having recently returned from the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan, where it formed part of an exhibition entitled “Proclaiming Emancipation: Slavery and Freedom in the Era of the Civil War.” Program in African American History Director Erica Armstrong Dunbar contextualizes this historic document in her article Freedom Bound: The Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.
All Slaves Were Made Freemen by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, January 1st, 1863 (Philadelphia, 1863). Lithograph.

The Library Company will also partner with the African American Museum, the National Park Service, and the University of Delaware to present a teaching symposium entitled “Beyond the Proclamation: Interpreting Emancipation for Today’s Youth,” which will include two panels and a keynote address by University of North Carolina at Greensboro Associate Professor and Director of Public History Dr. Benjamin Filene.

Professor Dunbar will introduce the first panel on "Reaching Students in the Classroom and the Field," made up of Naomi Coquillon from the National Museum of American History; Michelle Evans of Connor Prairie Interactive History Park; Masterman High School’s Amy Cohen; and Krystal Appiah, African American History Specialist at the Library Company.

"Beyond the Proclamation: Interpreting Emancipation for Today’s Youth" will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2013, at WHYY, Independence Mall West, 150 N. Sixth Street, Philadelphia. Visit to register and receive more information. You can also register by calling the Friends’ office at 215-861-4971 or by e-mailing

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