African Americans and Emancipation

by Manisha Sinha

Historians increasingly understand emancipation was not a singular event that simply involved the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. Instead, emancipation is better understood as a complex process that involved many actors, not the least of whom were the slaves themselves. Even before the start of the Civil War, the antebellum abolition movement had agitated for an end to slavery for thirty years and southern slaves had runaway and, occasionally, rebelled against slavery. During the war, black and white abolitionists, Radical Republicans in Congress, and the thousands of slaves who defected to the Union pressured the Lincoln administration to act on emancipation.More »

Featured Primary Sources

Issac & Rosa, Slave children from New Orleans, 1863 (GLC05111.02.1051)

Slave Children of New Orleans, 1863

Creator: Charles Paxson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Emancipation Proclamation [California printing, Cheesman copy], January 1, 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
View All

Multimedia

The Emancipation Proclamation

Speaker(s): Allen C. Guelzo Duration: 3 minutes 29 seconds

1866: The Birth of Civil Rights

Speaker(s): Eric Foner Duration: 4 minutes 4 seconds

Africans’ Appropriations of the Symbolism of Abraham Lincoln

Speaker(s): Kevin Gaines Duration: 22 minutes 23 seconds
View All