Today in History: Lincoln reads first draft of Emancipation Proclamation to cabinet

July 22nd, 2013

On July 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet, seeking comments for revisions. The executive order freed the slaves from the ten states in rebellion, applying to approximately 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the United States.

The draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was not met with universal acclaim by Lincoln’s cabinet. According to Michelle Krowl, the Civil War and Reconstruction specialist in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, many of Lincoln’s cabinet members were concerned about the repercussions of such a bold executive order:

Some worried about the after-effects. Some wondered about how it might affect the mid-term elections. And others pointed out that the Union army was not doing so well at that time, and that it might be advisable to wait until the Union army had a victory so the document would be presented with a backdrop of strength rather than weakness.

President Lincoln waited until the Union victory at Antietam on September 17, 1862 to release the Emancipation Proclamation, which was ultimately signed on January 1, 1863.

Interested in teaching your students more about the Emancipation Proclamation? Try this lesson plan from EDSITEment which analyzes the impact of the proclamation.

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