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