Did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation as a result of victory at Antietam?

Mango Hill

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I was watching a YouTube video by Joe Ryan CivilWar and he makes a very interesting observation which goes as follows. Lincoln did not issue the EP because of Antietam but because of the threat posed to Kentucky by the twin invasions of Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg. By the 17th Buckner had obtained the surrender of garrison at Munfordville while Kirby Smith had captured Richmond. With Louisville threatened, Buell's right flank open to attack and most of Eastern Kentucky in Confederate hands Lincoln was afraid that Kentucky would go over to the CSA. With that in mind slaves in Kentucky would be freed and this would give second thoughts to Kentuckians who wanted to switch sides and, if not the entire state, at least declare that part of Kentucky in CSA hands for the Confederacy. I've never seen any evidence to back up Mr. Ryan's claim. Is there any merit to this claim?
 

huskerblitz

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I think part of it may be the phrasing. It is my opinion the EP was not issued as a result of Antietam, but the strategic victory permitted a good time to issue with. If you recall, the issue of the EP started as early as June or July but was delayed because of how poorly things were going for the federal army at that time.

So based on that, my preliminary idea is that, no, Kentucky was not a reason Lincoln went ahead and released the EP.
 

John Hartwell

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The EP had been written months before the Battle of Antietam. Lincoln read it to his Cabinet during the summer (July, iirc), and asked their opinion. The consensus was positive, but that it should not be formally issued until the fortunes of the Union army improved (the Peninsula Campaign was not going well), because it might be taken as a sign of desperation on his part. The Antietam victory provided the reversal of fortune.

Antietam is linked to the timing of the EP, not to its writing.
 

Mango Hill

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The EP had been written months before the Battle of Antietam. Lincoln read it to his Cabinet during the summer (July, iirc), and asked their opinion. The consensus was positive, but that it should not be formally issued until the fortunes of the Union army improved (the Peninsula Campaign was not going well), because it might be taken as a sign of desperation on his part. The Antietam victory provided the reversal of fortune.

Antietam is linked to the timing of the EP, not to its writing.

Yes, that's true. Mr. Ryan spent an entire video on a hypothesis that the delay in the issuance of the proclamation was due to the merit's of it's legality rather than because it would be seen as the last gasp of a dying man. I've spent an entire afternoon looking at his video's and they have value in that he presents a different point of view. There's nothing wrong with that but I believe he has an unfavorable view of current and past historians and an inflated one of his own because he's a long time lawyer. I think Mr. Ryan believes that once history is viewed from a legal point of view that the predominant historical accounts will just crumble.
 

NedBaldwin

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I was watching a YouTube video by Joe Ryan CivilWar and he makes a very interesting observation which goes as follows. Lincoln did not issue the EP because of Antietam but because of the threat posed to Kentucky by the twin invasions of Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg. By the 17th Buckner had obtained the surrender of garrison at Munfordville while Kirby Smith had captured Richmond. With Louisville threatened, Buell's right flank open to attack and most of Eastern Kentucky in Confederate hands Lincoln was afraid that Kentucky would go over to the CSA. With that in mind slaves in Kentucky would be freed and this would give second thoughts to Kentuckians who wanted to switch sides and, if not the entire state, at least declare that part of Kentucky in CSA hands for the Confederacy. I've never seen any evidence to back up Mr. Ryan's claim. Is there any merit to this claim?

the EP didnt apply to Kentucky ... 🤷‍♂️
 

GwilymT

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I was watching a YouTube video by Joe Ryan CivilWar and he makes a very interesting observation which goes as follows. Lincoln did not issue the EP because of Antietam but because of the threat posed to Kentucky by the twin invasions of Kirby Smith and Braxton Bragg. By the 17th Buckner had obtained the surrender of garrison at Munfordville while Kirby Smith had captured Richmond. With Louisville threatened, Buell's right flank open to attack and most of Eastern Kentucky in Confederate hands Lincoln was afraid that Kentucky would go over to the CSA. With that in mind slaves in Kentucky would be freed and this would give second thoughts to Kentuckians who wanted to switch sides and, if not the entire state, at least declare that part of Kentucky in CSA hands for the Confederacy. I've never seen any evidence to back up Mr. Ryan's claim. Is there any merit to this claim?
I would think that unless Mr. Ryan can produce some documentation or evidence that refutes the documented interpretation of the roll out of the EP as outlined above, we can dismiss his rambling as just that- rambling. I guess it works for “views” and “likes” but it isn’t history.

As a lawyer, Mr. Ryan should know that if he wants to claim that Kentucky was the driver of the EP, he should produce evidence rather than hearsay and his own interpretation of the events. Only if he wants to be taken seriously, that is.
 

Belfoured

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jackt62

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It was Secretary of State Seward who advised Lincoln to delay publication of the EP when it was originally presented to the Cabinet in July 1862. Seward's fear was that it would appear as an act of desperation by the administration during a period when Union armies had suffered major setbacks in Virginia. Accordingly, Lincoln followed Seward's advice to wait until the Union could claim some sort of victory, which was the opportunity that Antietam finally presented, no matter how flawed that victory was.

The unsupported claim about the CSA's march into Kentucky prompting Lincoln does not make sense. Kentucky was firmly in the Union's grasp by September 1862; moreover, Bragg was forced to withdraw from Kentucky in disgust after realizing that the state was not a fertile region for Confederate recruiting.
 

Mango Hill

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the EP didnt apply to Kentucky ... 🤷‍♂️

That's right, good point. It applied to the states currently under rebellion. My guess is that Mr. Ryan believes that if Kentucky rebelled it would fall under the EP guideline as a rebelling state. Not sure that the EP would be as flexible a proclamation. Anyway, food for thought stuff but there's no evidence to support Mr. Ryan's hypothesis.
 

Mango Hill

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It was Secretary of State Seward who advised Lincoln to delay publication of the EP when it was originally presented to the Cabinet in July 1862. Seward's fear was that it would appear as an act of desperation by the administration during a period when Union armies had suffered major setbacks in Virginia. Accordingly, Lincoln followed Seward's advice to wait until the Union could claim some sort of victory, which was the opportunity that Antietam finally presented, no matter how flawed that victory was.

The unsupported claim about the CSA's march into Kentucky prompting Lincoln does not make sense. Kentucky was firmly in the Union's grasp by September 1862; moreover, Bragg was forced to withdraw from Kentucky in disgust after realizing that the state was not a fertile region for Confederate recruiting.

Militarily speaking Bragg's and Kirby Smith's invasion of Kentucky had grabbed a large chunk of territory, including it's capital, and Lew Wallace had to be sent to Louisville to garrison the city as it was feared it might fall to Bragg's invading army. Sentiment wise it's correct to accept Bragg's observation of Kentuckian's but did Mr. Lincoln know this?
 

atlantis

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It was an act of desperation, elections were soon and Lincoln considered Antietam a lost opportunity, he had to do something.
 

jackt62

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Militarily speaking Bragg's and Kirby Smith's invasion of Kentucky had grabbed a large chunk of territory, including it's capital, and Lew Wallace had to be sent to Louisville to garrison the city as it was feared it might fall to Bragg's invading army. Sentiment wise it's correct to accept Bragg's observation of Kentuckian's but did Mr. Lincoln know this?

Not sure how that reinforces any point about issuing the EP. If Lincoln and the administration rightly feared Bragg's invasion of Kentucky and the possible threat to the trans-Ohio River, that would be even more reason to delay the EP. Conversely, one could argue that the withdrawal of the AOT from Kentucky would have given Lincoln good cover to issue the proclamation. But Antietam happened first and decided the matter.
 

Mango Hill

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Not sure how that reinforces any point about issuing the EP. If Lincoln and the administration rightly feared Bragg's invasion of Kentucky and the possible threat to the trans-Ohio River, that would be even more reason to delay the EP. Conversely, one could argue that the withdrawal of the AOT from Kentucky would have given Lincoln good cover to issue the proclamation. But Antietam happened first and decided the matter.

The point is that Lincoln might not have known Kentuckian sentiment at the time. Bragg was aware of something that Lincoln might have not been aware; that Kentuckians were not secesh enough. Timing wise the capture of Munfordville came on the 17th, concurrently with Antietam. Also, there's no way that Lincoln could have foreseen that Bragg would retreat out of Kentucky after the Battle of Perryville.

I'm not trying to support Mr. Ryan's hypothesis that it was not victory at Antietam, but the possible loss of Kentucky, that weighed heavily in Lincoln's mind which led to the EP. It's just an interesting observation put out by a fella who likes to indulge in such things.
 

jackt62

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I'm not trying to support Mr. Ryan's hypothesis that it was not victory at Antietam, but the possible loss of Kentucky, that weighed heavily in Lincoln's mind which led to the EP. It's just an interesting observation put out by a fella who likes to indulge in such thin

Can't say I agree, but Mr. Ryan is entitled to his opinion.
 

Belfoured

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Aug 3, 2019
@atlantis ,

Why do think it was considered an "act of desperation?"

Sincerely,
Unionblue
Good question in response to a "unique" perspective on the issuance of something Lincoln was prepared to issue in the Summer and only delayed issuing until he had a victory. The notion that Lincoln was doing this for the elections is an even more "unique" perspective that doesn't make Abe look very smart.
 

huskerblitz

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The point is that Lincoln might not have known Kentuckian sentiment at the time.
I don't find that to be true. Kentucky governor Beriah Magoffin was noted for his Confederate sympathies and he did have his supporters until driven out of office in August of 1862. Lincoln knew Kentucky was divided...maybe the most divided state in the Union.
 

wausaubob

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Seward and Ambassador Adams had work to do in England to convince the English that the EC was not an attempt to incite a Jamaican style revolt. During the summer of 1862, the administration switched priorities from Kentucky to Britain. Once the US had control of the Mississippi below Memphis, and complete control of the Ohio River counties of KY and w. VA, about the only way the Confederacy could win was if the British intervened and broke the blockade.
General Lee's Maryland campaign was the only credible attempt to break into Washington, D.C. and Baltimore and the odds of it happening were very slim indeed.
 

OpnCoronet

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Feb 23, 2010
Lincoln issued the proclamation as a necessary war winning measure, i.e., he believed the war could not be won without it. The timing of issuance turned upon a major Union military success, which he believed was Antietam.

Viewing the War in its broadest terms, as I believe Lincoln was doing at that time, it is entirely possible events in Ky may have been a part of that broad perspective but, I doubt it was in any way a cause for the writing of the Proclamation or its issuance.
 

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