The Emancipation Proclamation turned 150 years old yesterday, and the United States Postal Service has issued a new stamp for folks to commemorate the landmark document issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863.
With the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln proclaimed in the midst of the Civil War that all slaves held in Confederate states would be “forever free” once the army had taken control. The Emancipation Proclamation is often credited as the document which freed the slaves. It didn’t exactly do that, as it only applied to ten Confederate states, and neither outlawed slavery nor made newly freedman citizens. And yet, the Emancipation Proclamation holds tremendous symbolic value as a document which changed the character of the war.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, quoting historian Eric Foner, notes the significance of the proclmation: > > Nonetheless, the proclamation marked a dramatic transformation in the nature of the Civil War and in Lincoln’s own approach to the problem of slavery. No longer did he seek the consent of slave holders. The proclamation was immediate, not gradual, contained no mention of compensation for owners, and made no reference to colonization.