Acton Institute Powerblog

Evaluating the Emancipation Proclamation

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One hundred and fifty years have passed since President Abraham Lincoln issues one of the most extraordinary proclamations in our nation’s history. The Emancipation Proclamation declared:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

Slavery in the United States did not end with the proclamation, but document nevertheless proved to be an important step toward ending one of history’s greatest evils.

On the 150th anniversary of the proclamation, Law and Liberty’s Liberty Forum has published several essays “evaluating the constitutional legitimacy of the document and the larger questions of liberty, power, and justice raised by it.”

• David Nichols, “The Emancipation Proclamation: Abraham Lincoln’s Constitutionally Modest Proposal”

• Marshall DeRosa, “So Much Power in So Few Hands: Reevaluating Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation”

• Allen Guelzo, “A Complicated and Constitutional Act of Liberty and Justice”

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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