“Reading the Emancipation Proclamation,” J. W. Watts, 1864.
As we begin the second semester of the Freedom Project at Marquette: A Sesquicentennial Commemoration, I’d like to highlight the 150th anniversary of the event at the center of the commemoration: the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863. The whole text appears below. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued after the Battle of Antietam a few months earlier, had warned the “people . . . in rebellion against the United States” that if they did not lay down their arms by January 1, their slaves would be freed. They kept fighting, of course, and President Lincoln, as Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of the United States, kept his promise. Although historians contemporaries and historians debated the effectiveness, the motivations, and even the legality of the Proclamation—a debate renewed, in some ways, by historians’ reactions to last fall’s Steven Spielberg movie, Lincoln, about the passage of the 13th Amendment two years after the Proclamation—it changed the course of the war and of American history.
This semester’s Freedom Project events include a history of African Americans through song, a lecture about the pathbreaking African American filmmaker Oscar Michaux, a symposium on personal freedom and domestic surveillance, plays exploring multiple facets of freedom, and a Casper Lecture on emancipation in the US and the Caribbean. See the complete schedule of Freedom Project events at http://www.marquette.edu/library/services/freedom-project/.
Marquette University’s Library also has a Research Guide on the Emancipation Proclamation: http://libguides.marquette.edu/emancipation_proclamation