The 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
Yesterday was the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). The original signed document is so fragile and faded that it only goes on display for a few hours every year. The National Archives wisely choose to display it during the anniversary of the signing. Kathy and I saw it just before Midnight on December 31.
I wondered why I was so compelled to go. Obviously, this is a hugely important document in US history, but I am not someone who usually gets much from visiting artifacts. But as we entered that line, I realized I had made a good decision.
When you first enter the hall, you pass an original copy of the Magna Carta (first written in 1215), a document which limited a king’s right to control the lives of serfs. The Emancipation Proclamation (a document which states that slaves living in much of the South would be “forever free”) was at the other end of this long hall. In between those important pillars of human rights was a long snaking line of hundreds people of many races and ages. The pull for me had more to do with those people who chose to come, than in merely seeing that document. Those people help reaffirm my hope in what is possible for humanity. And that seems like a good way to start a new year.
– Rick Maurer
Here is a transcript of The Emancipation Proclamation.