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Emancipation Proclamation 2019
  • Date: Sunday, April 14, 2019 - Tuesday, April 16, 2019
  • Time: 2:00 pm
  • Location: National Archives Museum

The National Archives marks the 156th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with a free display of the original document, related programs, and a special display of the DC Emancipation Act.

When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, he said, “I never in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right than I do in signing this paper. . . . If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it.” The document proclaimed that slaves held in areas still in rebellion “are and henceforward shall be free.” It also announced the acceptance of black men into the Union army and navy. By the end of the war nearly 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. This display coincides with the anniversary of Lincoln’s death (he was shot on April 14th and died on April 15th).  He viewed this milestone document as his proudest achievement.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. As a milestone along the road to slavery’s final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom.

The National Archives’ celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Boeing Company.