Most slaves in the Deep South did not know of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation until Union occupation forces came to their communities and read the document to them. This old artwork showing a black Union trooper reading the proclamation to newly freed men and women recalls that experience. The news that freedom had finally come after centuries of pleading and prayer stunned most blacks who heard it. Many were overcome with joy and immediately set out for other parts of the United States, where they hoped to begin new lives.
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