Skip to main content

Civil War Trust

Abraham Lincoln's Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation

July 22, 1862
Abraham Lincoln

When Lincoln felt the time had come to pursue emancipation as a “military necessity,” he read an initial draft of his Proclamation to his cabinet. His advisors were apathetic to the Proclamation, or worse, worried that it was too radical. Secretary of State William Seward suggested that Lincoln wait to issue the Proclamation until a Union victory could prove that the federal government could enforce it. The Proclamation was officially released on September 22nd, 1862, after the Battle of Antietam, but the two months between July and September gave Lincoln the necessary time to revise the Proclamation from its original content, below.


In pursuance of the sixth section of the act of congress entitled “An act to suppress insurrection and to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes,” approved July 17, 1862, and which act, and the Joint Resolution explanatory thereof, are herewith published, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim to, and warn all persons within the contemplation of said sixth section to cease participating in, aiding, countenancing, or abetting the existing rebellion, or any rebellion against the government of the United States, and to return to their proper allegiance to the United States, on pain of the forfeitures and seizures, as within and by said sixth section provided.

Carpenter EP image 700

"The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet." Francis Carpenter, 1864.

And I hereby make known that it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure for tendering pecuniary aid to the free choice or rejection, of any and all States which may then be recognizing and practically sustaining the authority of the United States, and which may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, gradual abolishment of slavery within such State or States---that the object is to practically restore, thenceforward to be maintain[ed], the constitutional relation between the general government, and each, and all the states, wherein that relation is now suspended, or disturbed; and that, for this object, the war, as it has been, will be, prosecuted [sic]. And, as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object, I, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do order and declare that on the first day of January in the year of Our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or states, wherein the constitutional authority of the United States shall not then be practically recognized, submitted to, and maintained, shall then, thenceforward, and forever, be free.

Want the Latest? Follow us on Twitter and Facebook:

Our Sponsors

Powered by Convio
nonprofit software