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On January 1, 1963, nearly two years after the start of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the freedom of slaves living in the United States. Even though the Proclamation did not legally end slavery, it did provide the impetus for 3.1 million enslaved black Americans to be freed as the Union armies advanced into the Confederate States of America. In a larger context, the release of this document set the foundation for the crafting and implementation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments--the documents that shaped Reconstruction. The Emancipation Proclamation introduces undergraduates to the intricacies of this iconic order which is frequently understood as the move that ended formally ended slavery. Going beyond the political interworkings of the Proclamation, Whitehead examines the impact of the event on free and enslaved black communities across America.
In five chapters, bolstered by speeches, letters, and legal writings, Whitehead explains the foundations of the Emancipation Proclamation, its context, and its cultural, political, and legal long-term ramifications.
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