Emancipation Proclamation Inkstand

Emancipation Proclamation Inkstand

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In the summer of 1862 President Abraham Lincoln sat at a desk in the War Department telegraph office and with this inkstand began to draft a presidential order to free the enslaved people held in the Confederacy. While the act was limited in scope, it was revolutionary in impact. With emancipation and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery in 1865, over four million Americans were no longer legally defined as someone’s property and, although their rights would be brutally contested, they became United States citizens.
Object Name
date made
mid 19th century
Associated Date
associated person
Lincoln, Abraham
US Telegraph Office
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
glass; brass lid (inkwell material)
overall: 5 1/4 in x 13 3/8 in x 8 3/4 in; 13.335 cm x 33.9725 cm x 22.225 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Transfer from Library of Congress
Emancipation Proclamation (1)
See more items in
Political and Military History: Political History, General History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith
American Democracy
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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There are two different objects associated with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This ink stand and an ink pot made of clay. Interesting for sure, but it is not nearly as historically significate as it is made out to be. In both stories Lincoln is at the War Department and not in his office at the White House. He borrowed someone's desk and used what was available. Seems to me, the pen would be more of a historical artifact.
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