Not so fast


On May 9, 1862, Gen. David Hunter declared all slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida “forever free” and authorized them to serve in the U.S. Army. President Lincoln believed only he could give such an order. Twelve days later he issued this proclamation revoking Hunter’s edict. He scolded the general for exceeding his authority but warned slaveholders that such an order might “become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the government.”

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