100th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Today–September 22, 2012– marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the preliminary issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document which made freedom possible for roughly four million enslaved African Americans. Although the order did not take effect until January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s September 22 issuance created a timeline for the abolition of the long-standing American slavery system.  This document drastically altered the course of the Civil War and, consequently, American history by officially outlawing ownership of any human being, a practice which the U.S. Constitution had essentially ignored prior to the proclamation.  Immediately following the war, the order was further solidified and enforced throughout the entire nation (including the former Confederacy) by 1865’s 13th Amendment.  Though African Americans would endure a century of harsh discrimination until the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, the Emancipation Proclamation marks the first monumental gain for racial equality in American history.

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