EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION Drafted in 1862 and put into effect on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln in which he declared that "all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
Contrary to the popular view that the Emancipation Proclamation was an abolitionist-inspired effort to summarily destroy the institution of slavery in the United States, its terminology leaves little doubt that it was basically a strategic military maneuver to save the Union during the Civil War. It was hoped that the Proclamation would have the effect of creating a climate of confusion in the Confederacy, and that southern slaves would lay down their tools, escape, and ultimately rally to the Union forces as enlistees. In fact, the Proclamation contained an open invitation to this effect — an invitation that was designed not only to cripple the southern labor force, but to strengthen the Union's manpower military position as well. Further evidence that the Emancipation Proclamation was not an abolitionist-inspired document relates to the fact that all slaves were not freed by it. Only slaves in those areas still in rebellion against the United States were affected. Excluded from its provisions were nearly one million African American slaves in the four Union slave states (Maryland, Missouri, Kentucky and Delaware), as well as those slaves in large portions of Louisiana and Virginia (including West Virginia), which were then under Union control. See also: GREAT EMANCIPATOR.