On this dayJan 01, 1863

President Lincoln Signs the Emancipation Proclamation

Image | Associated Press

Slavery was not abolished by the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Issued in the midst of the Civil War, the proclamation applied only to enslaved people in states that were in rebellion in 1863, namely South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arkansas, and North Carolina. Tennessee and portions of Virginia and Louisiana that were occupied by the Union were exempt. Slavery was left untouched in the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Exercising his powers as commander in chief, President Abraham Lincoln issued the proclamation primarily as a wartime measure. Key provisions allowing for the service of formerly enslaved black people in the Union Army and Navy opened the door to the gradual enlistment of almost 200,000 black men.

Slavery did not become illegal until the Thirteenth Amendment was officially ratified on December 6, 1865 (though even then, the provision allowed for legal enslavement "as punishment for crime"). Many Southern states refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment even after the Civil War ended. Delaware and Kentucky rejected ratification and slavery persisted in those states for several more years before the practice ceased. Mississippi did not officially ratify the amendment until 1995–130 years after it was adopted.

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