Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

Back in the East, President Lincoln opened the new year by formally signing the Emancipation Proclamation, first announced back in September 1862. This document freed all slaves located in the rebellious Southern states. It did not apply to slaves in the four "border states" that allowed slavery but remained loyal to the Union (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri), or to those areas of the Confederacy that were already under Federal control.

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation proved to be one of the major events of the Civil War. It convinced thousands of slaves to flee the South for freedom in the North, which deprived the Confederacy of a vital source of labor. Even more importantly, however, it transformed the North's view of the entire war. Prior to Lincoln's Proclamation, the North had been fighting solely to preserve the Union. After Lincoln signed the Proclamation, the Northern cause included the abolishment of slavery. This moral dimension increased Northern support for the war effort among citizens and soldiers alike. It also discouraged the European powers from supporting the Confederate cause.

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