DC -- Lincoln Cottage -- Visitor Center -- Exhibit: In Pursuit of Emancipation:
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LINCEM_080211_07.JPG: "If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act."
-- Abraham Lincoln
Many agree with Lincoln's own opinion of the importance of his signing the Emancipation Proclamation into law on January 1, 1863. Yet his action provoked controversy then, and even today raised debate. We wonder what his motives were as he cast about for a policy on slavery, especially since some of his moves seem open to more than one interpretation.
As a politician, Lincoln had opposed the spread of slavery. As president, he moved publicly from a hands-off approach, to stronger action -- from encouraging phased emancipation and slaveholder compensation, to ordering immediate and unpaid liberation; from proposing to send freed slaves to colonies overseas, to enlisting them as soldiers; and from commanding an army to save the political Union, to leading a war that embodied a struggle for human liberty.
LINCEM_080211_13.JPG: Inkstand used by Abraham Lincoln to write the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
LINCEM_080211_33.JPG: In Pursuit of Emancipation:
Documenting Lincoln's Decision to Proclaim Freedom:
February 1 - April 30, 2008:
An exhibition from the collection of
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
The Massachusetts Historical Society
The National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Favoring Compensation Abolition:
Early in his political career and during the first year of the presidency, Lincoln advocated gradually ending slavery, with financial compensation for slaveholders. He succeeded in attaining compensated emancipation only in the District of Columbia, where Congress could impose it.
(Document) Petition for compensation under the District of Columbia's Emancipation Act, 1862. In addition to immediate emancipation, the law provided for up to $300 for each slave to loyal Unionist owners, voluntary colonization of former slaves outside the United States, and up to $100 cash to former slaves who chose emigration. Over nine months, the federal government paid almost $1 million for the freedom of about 3,100 former slaves.
(Document) Message from the President to Congress, March 6, 1862. Lincoln was attempting to offer compensation to all slaveholding states if they adopted his plan for gradual, compensated emancipation. The border states dismisses the plan,and the resolution was never enacted.
Moving Toward Emancipation:
In a move widely viewed at the time as a political and military strategy, on September 22, 1862, Lincoln announced that he would order the abolition of slavery in states in rebellion against the Union. Public reaction to this preliminary emancipation proclamation was immediate and mixed both in the North and South.
(Document) Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation: General Orders, September 24, 1862. Lincoln's first attempt at a more widespread policy of emancipation still included a proposal for compensation of states voluntarily adopting immediate or gradual emancipation, as well as voluntary colonization of former states on "this continent of elsewhere."
Lincoln is believed to have started working on an emancipation policy in the summer of 1862. In late July of that year, he presented to his cabinet his plan to proceed with ending slavery in states in rebellion against the Union. ...
Secretary of State William Seward suggested that Lincoln wait for a military victory before publicly issuing the proclamation, to avoid having it appear as an act of desperation. Five days after the Union stopped Lee's army at Antietam, Maryland, the president issued the preliminary emancipation proclamation on September 22.
Promoting the Proclamation:
Response to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, was mixed, and debate over its effectiveness continues today (it immediately freed slaves in only a few places and left slavery legal in some Union states). But the president and many others saw it as a crucial step toward complete emancipation. Lincoln called it not only a "necessary war measure" but also an "act of justice".
(Document) Broadside of the Emancipation Proclamation, Blanchard edition, Chicago, ca. 1863. The printer Rufus Blanchard describes the proclamation as "in incalculable element of strength to the Union cause" making foreign support for the Confederacy impossible and prompting slaves to fight for the Union and their freedom.
Some soldiers willing to fight to preserve the Union were unwilling to fight to abolish slavery. Even when not opposed to emancipation, many officers and men complained that freed slaves, for whom they lacked food or support, overwhelmed their camps and lines. Some Northerners tried to convince Lincoln to rescind the proclamation and negotiate with the Confederacy.
(Document -- Illustration) Lincoln Writing the Emancipation Proclamation, Adalber J. Volck, ca 1880 or 1890. One of the major arguments against the Emancipation Proclamation was that Lincoln lacked the constitutional authority to enact it. His answer was that his wartime presidential powers gave him the authority to issue it as a military necessity. In this satirical cartoon, Lincoln's foot rests on the Constitution.
(Document) Letter from Hillary Shifflet to his wife, Jermina, Camp Sill, Tennessee, February 13, 1863. A soldier complains, "this unholy war wood a bin over if oald Lincoln wood a let the negros alone."
(Document) Letter from a 12th Vermont militiaman, Fairfax County, Virginia, January 1, 1863. This unidentified soldier declares that "the Administration are generally damned by the soldiers."
Enlisting Black Troops:
As Union casualties mounted, Lincoln came under increasingly intense pressure to allow black enlistment. Frederick Douglass demanded, "Why does the government reject the negro? Is he not a man? Can he not wield a sword, fire a gun, march and counter march, and obey orders like any other? ... this is no time to fight only with your white hand, and allow your black hand to remain tied."
(Document -- Photograph) Black troops of Ferrero's division, on the eastern front at Petersburg, Virginia. Only after Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation did the Union army officially accept black soldiers in its ranks, in all-black units. In May 1863, the war Department established the Bureau of Colored Troops.
Guaranteeing Freedom To All:
In his second inaugural address, Lincoln described the approach he would take to "bind up the nation's wounds." A major component of reconstruction would be a constitutional amendment guaranteeing freedom to all. The Thirteenth Amendment passed both houses of Congress, and Lincoln signed it on February 13 -- but it was not ratified by the states until December, months after his death.
(Document) Signed Resolution for the Thirteenth Amendment, February 1, 1865: This is one of thirteen souvenir copies signed by Abraham Lincoln.
LINCEM_080211_79.JPG: January 1, 1863:
Signing the Proclamation:
(Document) Authorized edition of the Emancipation Proclamation, Leland-Boker edition. Reproduced with the president's permission, the special edition signed by Lincoln was sold to raise money at the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair in June 1864 to benefit the U.S. Sanitary Commission's hospitals and relief efforts for Union soldiers.
(Artifact) Inkstand used by Abraham Lincoln to write the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.
(Artifact) Pen used by Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln presented this pen, through Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, to the abolitionist George Livermore in January 1863.
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2008 photos: Equipment this year: I was using three cameras -- the Fuji S9000 and the Canon Rebel Xti from last year, and a new camera, the Fuji S100fs. The first two cameras had their pluses and minuses and I really didn't have a single camera that I thought I could use for just about everything. But I loved the S100fs and used it almost exclusively this year.
Trips this year: (1) Civil War Preservation Trust annual conference in Springfield, Missouri , (2) a week in New York, (3) a week in San Diego for the Comic-Con, (4) a driving trip to St. Louis, and (5) a visit to dad and Dixie's in Asheville, North Carolina.
Ego strokes: A picture I'd taken last year during a Friends of the Homeless event was published in USA Today with a photo credit and everything! I became a volunteer photographer with the AFI/Silver theater.
Number of photos taken this year: 330,000.