- "Forever Free"
Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life
In the summer of 1862, Lincoln drafted an executive order on slavery. Published in September, it declared that, as of January 1, 1863, all persons held in slavery in areas still in rebellion would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not directly free any enslaved people in Union-controlled areas, it was widely understood that a Union victory would mean the end of slavery.
Gift of Ralph E. Becker, 1959
Transfer from the Library of Congress, 1962
Telegraph Office Inkstand
—Maj. Thomas T. Eckert, chief, War Department Telegraph Office
Courtesy of the U.S. Senate Collection
First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation before the Cabinet
"If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is into it."
—Abraham Lincoln, January 1, 1863