This exhibition of Gilder Lehrman Collection materials curated and selected by the Gilder Lehrman Institute follows the dramatic turning points of 1863 in the American Civil War. After twenty months of civil war, President Abraham Lincoln used his war powers to strike a blow against slavery with the final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It transformed the war from a struggle to save the Union to a war to restore the Union and to end slavery.
The year began with the Confederates in high spirits. Southern armies retained a foothold in Tennessee while Union troops in Virginia were reeling from their loss at Fredericksburg. Confederate independence might never have been nearer to realization. The battles of Gettysburg, Vicksburg, and Fort Wagner in July, however, turned the tide and reawakened Union resolve. These battles and the Emancipation Proclamation put the nation on course for the “new birth of freedom” Lincoln proclaimed in the Gettysburg Address. Despite these important developments, it would be another year and a half before the “great civil war” would end.
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