The Emancipation Proclamation

1863

While the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it fundamentally transformed the character of the Civil War. After January 1, 1863, every advance of federal troops expanded the domain of freedom. Moreover, the liberated themselves became liberators, for the proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union army and navy. By the end of the war, nearly 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation added moral force to the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to slavery’s final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom. Read more in "The Meaning and Making of Emancipation," a free eBook that presents the Emancipation Proclamation in its social and political context with documents in the National Archives' holdings that illustrate the efforts of the many Americans, enslaved and free, white and black, by whom slavery was abolished in the United States.

National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government


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