Emancipation Proclamation

(1862)

Impact

The first wave of response to the Emancipation Proclamation varied by population but was generally favorable, drawing positive comments from observers such as the prominent abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison, the former slave and fellow abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, and the writer Ralph Waldo Emerson. Lincoln's political party, the Republicans, likewise welcomed the proclamation. Democrats, on the other hand, denounced Lincoln's decree as unconstitutional and later nominated General George McClellan to oppose Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election; McClellan vowed not to fight a war to free slaves. Southerners, meanwhile, charged Lincoln with fomenting a slave revolt. Abroad, the response was mixed, with some British newspapers hailing Lincoln's humanitarian action and others supporting the South and criticizing the proclamation. Regardless of such criticism, the British government delayed consideration of a proposal to recognize the Confederacy,...

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The Emancipation Proclamation (National Archives and Records Administration)

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