It was an affirming moment for our community when a lengthy line of people waited to see the preliminary version of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. It is the handwritten order that freed the slaves in the Confederate states during the worst of the Civil War.
Lincoln's own fingerprints still appear on the paper. We can see the strokes of his pen. We can read first hand the lawyerly language that came from the legal mind that trained in the Illinois courts. The 1862 letter is signed by the president as "Abraham Lincoln". It is also signed by the national leader who made Auburn his home William Seward who was Secretary of State.
The proclamation was an offer of liberty to slaves, but was rooted in military strategy for the president who was trying to regain a foothold of power in the Civil War which he was struggling to win. This document particularly freed the slaves in the states that had rebelled. That freedom created new challenges and cut into the labor supply for the Confederacy.
Back to 2012, it was heartwarming to see school groups and people of all ages and races coming to catch a glimpse of this history. It's part of our foundation and must be remembered.
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