Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863

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The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named the specific states where it applied.

The Emancipation Proclamation was widely attacked at the time as freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. In practice, it committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The proclamation did not free any slaves of the border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), or any southern state (or part of a state) already under Union control. It first directly affected only those slaves who had already escaped to the Union side. Hearing of the Proclamation, more slaves quickly escaped to Union lines as the Army units moved South. As the Union armies conquered the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (approximately 4 million, according to the 1860 census) were freed by July 1865.

After the war, abolitionists were concerned that since the proclamation was a war measure, it had not permanently ended slavery. Several former slave states passed legislation prohibiting slavery; however, some slavery continued to be legal, and to exist, until the institution was ended by the sufficient states' ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.
 

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