Then, Thenceforward, and Forever Free

emancipationproclamationWe can’t let 2013 begin without marking the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which Abraham Lincoln issued on January 1, 1863.

Harold Holzer describes the anxiety many Americans felt on that day as they waited for confirmation of the act. Allen Guelzo weighs Lincoln’s legal options. Annette Gordon-Reed discusses the document’s significance. Eric Foner discusses what it did–and did not do.

Black churches across the country have held commemorative Watch Nights. Barack Obama has marked the anniversary with another presidential proclamation. In Washington, the National Archives is holding special viewing hours for the original document until 5 p.m. today. The Library of Congress will display an earlier draft in Lincoln’s handwriting from January 3 to February 18.  In New York, the Schomberg Center is marking the anniversary with “Visualizing Emancipation,” an exhibition of 80 photographs of enslaved and free Civil-War-era African Americans, on display until March 16. In Boston, the Massachusetts Historical Society is exhibiting the pen Lincoln used to sign the Proclamation, in a special exhibit from 12 to 4 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on following days.

We hope 2013 will bring us the preservation, expansion, and renewal of human freedom.

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