a proclamation

On September 22, 1862, following the Union victory at Antietam, President Lincoln issued this document, ordering that in 100 days the federal government would deem all slaves free in those states still rebelling against the Union. The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is the only surviving Proclamation document in Lincoln’s own hand. Lincoln probably glued in sections of the Congressional Confiscation Act to save time—the fingerprint visible on the first page of the document is probably his own.

In 1864, Lincoln donated the document to the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which raffled it off at the Albany Relief Bazaar to help raise money for the Union war effort. Abolitionist Gerrit Smith won the raffle after buying 1,000 tickets at $1 apiece. Smith then sold the document to the New York State Legislature, with funds going to the Sanitary Commission. The legislature, in turn, deposited the document in the New York State Library, where it remains today.

Less than two weeks after issuing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln visits with General George B. McClellan, (second on left) who opposed emancipation. Ironically, the photograph was taken on the site of the Battle of Antietam, the battle that enabled Lincoln to announce his proclamation.
Photograph by Alexander Gardner, October 3, 1862
The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, pages 1-4 (click to enlarge)