Education from LVA

Forever Free: Life as a Liberated People

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  • Photograph copy of President Abraham Lincoln's draft of the final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863. Original destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.
The Robert Todd Lincoln Family Papers, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Washington, D.C.: American Memory Project, (2000–02)., LOC
    Emancipation Proclamation
  • Emancipation / Th. Nast ; King & Baird, printers, 607 Sansom Street, Philadelphia. [Philadelphia]: Published by S. Bott, no. 43 South Third Street, Philadelphia, Penna., c1865., LOC
    Emancipation, Lithograph
  • Watch Meeting, Dec. 31, 1862—Waiting for the hour, 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount: albumen, Created by Heard & Moseley, Boston. c1863. Prints and Photographs Division. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., LOC
    Waiting for the Hour
  • Virginia Constitutional Convention (1864), Journal, 1864 February 13–April 11. Accession 40655. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Convention Resolved to Abolish Slavery
  • Congress, Wednesday, February 01, 1865 (Joint Resolution Submitting 13th Amendment to the States; signed by Abraham Lincoln and Congress). The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, Series 3. General Correspondence. 1837–1897. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington D.C., LOC
    Thirteenth Amendment
  • Augusta County (Va.) Register of Colored Persons of Augusta County, State of Virginia, cohabitating together as Husband and Wife on 27th February 1866. Local Government Records Collection, Augusta County Court Records. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Cohabitation Record
  • Broadside 189- .C7 FF, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., LVA
    Celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation
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« Return to The Thirteenth Amendment

Forever Free:
Life as a Liberated People

During the Civil War enslaved African Americans sought opportunities to gain their freedom wherever they could. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated that emancipation would take effect on January 1, 1863, and end to the institution of slavery in the Confederate states. Even though it did not end slavery throughout the Union, the Emancipation Proclamation transformed the entire purpose of the Civil War. After Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War changed from a war to preserve the Union into a war to end slavery. Slavery was abolished throughout the United States with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Following emancipation, African Americans expanded their commemorative traditions in a way that was impossible during slavery. There was no one, official day African Americans celebrated Emancipation Day, however. Localities throughout the South continue to celebrate emancipation at different times in the calendar year, often related to the date when Union troops brought news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the area.

People Featured in This Unit:

  • William Breedlove (ca. 1820–1871)
  • Henry Box Brown (1815 or 1816–after 1878)
  • Gabriel (1776–1800)
  • Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)
  • Joseph Jenkins Roberts (1809–1876)
  • Nat Turner (1800–1831)