The Emancipation Proclamation - American Civil War for Kids and Teachers Illustration

American Civil War Emancipation Proclamation


Lincoln knew that slavery was sanctioned by the Constitution. (That was changed with the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in Jan 1865.) The United States in 1863 was divided by law into free states and slaves states. Lincoln believed in the Constitution and the law. His Emancipation Proclamation was not designed to override the Constitution, or to give all African American men the same rights of citizenship as white men, but rather to help the North win the war.

The first drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation were full of heretofore and vague and confusing language. In the minds of some of Lincoln's staff, this proclamation was a most important document, a momentous document. This new law should be clearly stated. They were not alone. Lincoln had received letters and petitions from various groups asking him to free the slaves. Lincoln pointed out in discussions with various Union government and military leaders that there were 50,000 bayonets from the border slave states who were loyal to the Union. The Union forces could not afford to lose these fighting men over the question of slavery.

The Proclamation was not sent to the Senate and Congress for a vote. Using the broad range of powers the Constitution gives presidents in times of national emergency or war, Lincoln placed his Emancipation Proclamation into law in 1863. That law stated that slaves were freed in areas not controlled by the Union. Slaves in the border states - Kentucky, Delaware, Maryland, and Missouri - were not freed. Slaves in New Orleans, northern Virginia, much of Tennessee, the South Carolina coast, and in other areas of the South under Union control in 1863 were not freed. Slaves were only freed in areas over which the Union had no control.

 Lincoln believed:

  1. The Confederacy was benefitting from slaves at home who produced goods and took care of the farms and plantations, while the men were off fighting. It was Lincoln's hope that slaves under Confederate control would hear they were freed and rebel. 
  2. Lincoln was quite sure his proclamation would dash any hope the Confederacy might have of foreign support of monies or supplies. Once slavery was stated as a central issue of the war, England and France would not support the South's desire to continue slavery.

Emancipation Proclamation allowed African American soldiers to fight for the Union

Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free a single slave. The country of The Confederate States of America felt no obligation to obey Lincoln's proclamation as Lincoln was not their president - Jefferson Davis was president.

Emancipation Proclamation Paragraph Paramedics - fix the paragraph, interactive

Slavery Index

See Also:

The Civil War for Kids, Index

Civil War Interactive Games & Activities for Kids

Civil War Presentations in PowerPoint format

Civil War Video Clips

Civil War Clip Art for Kids and Teachers

Civil War, Free iPad & iPhone apps

American Civil War Lesson Plans for Teachers