1863 January 7: The Emancipation Proclamation Takes Effect
Following is the text of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation as printed in the newspapers. It appeared in the January 7, 1863, issue of The Prescott Journal and the January 10, 1863, issue of The Polk County Press. The headlines are from the Journal.
Even though it was issued in September 1862, it is being published the first week in January because the Proclamation states that “on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord, 1863 all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “shall be henceforth and forever free.” The order only applied to the rebel states and in some cases only portions of a state; the states were Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virgina.
The Great Proclamat’n!
A Fit and Necessary War Measure for Suppressing the Rebellion!
The Slaves are Now and Forever Free!
Their Freedom Maintained by the Military and Naval Authorities.
WASHINGTON, January 1.
By the President of the United States of America :
WHEREAS, On the 22nd day of September, in the year of our Lord, 1862 a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing among other things, the following, to wit:
That on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord, 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people where of shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be henceforth and forever free, and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons and any of them in any effort they may make for their actual freedom, that the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, issue a proclamation designating the States, if any, in which the people therein respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of qualified voters of such States shall have participated shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof are not in the rebellion against the United States.
Now, thereof, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, by virtue of the authority in me vested as Commander-in Chief of the Army and Navy, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority of the Government of the United States, as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this First day of January in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-Three, publicly proclaim at the full period of one hundred days from the date of the first above-mentioned order designating the States and parts of States, the people whereof respectively are this day in rebellion with the United States, the following to-wit: Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virgina.
The Proclamation includes the States of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Lafourch[e], St. Mary, St. Martin, and New Orleans, including the city of New Orleans; also Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virgina, except the forty eight counties designated as Western Virgina, and also the counties of Bermuda, Portsmouth, etc, which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued, and by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I order and declare that all persons held as slaves within the designated States and parts of the States are and hence shall be free, and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons, and I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free, to abstain from all violence unless in necessary self-defense, and I recommend to them that in all cases, when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages, and I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be receive into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service, and upon this proclamation, sincerely made as an act for justice warranted by the constitution upon military necessity I invoke the gracious favor of Almighty God and the considerate judgment of mankind. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the 87th.
(Signed) ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
By the President,
WM. H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.
1. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) features the Emancipation Proclamation on its website. The website explains, “The original of the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, is in the National Archives in Washington, DC. With the text covering five pages the document was originally tied with narrow red and blue ribbons, which were attached to the signature page by a wafered impression of the seal of the United States. Most of the ribbon remains; parts of the seal are still decipherable, but other parts have worn off.” The wafered impression of the U.S. seal is that “blob” you see on page 5 of the Proclamation.