Emancipation Proclamation Essay, Research Paper
There is much discussion about Lincoln’s order abolishing slavery in the states “in rebellion”. Though the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves right out nor make any drastic changes it was a very necessary, very big step taken. Lincoln began an essential phase that the country had to get through in order for slavery to ever be abolished. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was very important not much freedom truly occurred.
Lincoln’s famous document actually freed no slaves. The Proclamation applied only to slavery in rebellious areas. Not only did this mean Lincoln had no power to enforce emancipation in these states still in control by the Confederacy, but the four slave states still under federal control were exempt from the Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more then a war measure. It was part of Lincoln’s strategy and was politically necessary. Unfortunately, the Proclamation was only partially successful for Lincoln.
Lincoln had hoped to regain military initiative, political momentum, and diplomatic superiority all with the Emancipation Proclamation. It did somewhat regain military initiative with such generals as Grant’s help. It also did assist in gaining the favor of British abolitionists whom stepped up their efforts against recognition of the Confederacy.
The Emancipation Proclamation made clear, once again, what Lincoln had stuck by throughout the war. He repeatedly asserted that the Union’s objective in the Civil War was nothing more than ending a rebellion against constitutional authority. The abolishment of slavery was to have no part in the role of the conflict. The truth is the Proclamation wasn’t meant to set any slaves free. In all essence, if the southerners withdrew from the Confederacy within the time they were given, their slaves would not have been set free because the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to “any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States”. From September 13, 1862 (when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued) to January 1, 1863 (when it went into effect) Lincoln gave southerners a hundred days to declare loyalty to the Union. If they did not do so they faced a potential armed uprising among their slave population. Hence, Lincoln kept to the reasons of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation was not likely meant to truly free the slaves.
The Proclamation had been a wartime measurement and for the most part just a military necessity. Slavery was still very much alive, whether legally or not, after the Civil War had ended. The true abolishment of slavery occurred when Congress approved the Thirteenth Amendment in early 1865. This amendment abolished slavery completely in the United States and its territories. Though the end to slavery finally came with the ratification of Thirteenth Amendment, the black people were still very much enslaved in other ways.
Thus, the Fourteenth Amendment became necessary. The Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, gave citizenship to everyone born or naturalized in the United States. It also did not allow former leaders of the Confederacy to hold important political offices, as well as renouncing responsibility for the Confederate debts. The importance of this amendment to the black people was the citizenship they gained from it. Citizenship privileges were supposed to go along with this. Though some blacks did gain from this, things were still very hard for them. The Fifteenth Amendment, the final step in Reconstruction, added on to the assistance of the recently freed. Ratified in 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment prohibited states from denying black people the right to vote.
The combination of the Emancipation Proclamation and these three amendments truly set the blacks free. Much more was to be done before they would ever really be viewed as equals, but none of this could be possible without the Proclamation and these amendments. This period of time, the Proclamation, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments have truly left their mark and will always have a place in America’s history.