The Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached its third year of bloody civil war. The proclamation declared "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free."

The Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. Most important, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally changed to focus of the war from keeping the country together to ending slavery. Moreover, the Proclamation announced the acceptance of black men into the Union Army and Navy, enabling the liberated to become liberators. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom.

One unit that insisted on fighting without pay was the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first African-American regiments organized in the North. The soldiers of the 54th—among whom were two sons of Frederick Douglass—soon made the regiment the most famous of the Civil War.

The 54th Massachusetts earned its greatest fame in July 1863, when it led a heroic attack on Fort Wagner in South Carolina.The soldiers’ bravery at Fort Wagner made the 54th a household name in the North and increased African-American enlistment.

The soldiers of the 54th Massachusetts and other African-American regiments faced grave dangers if captured. Rather than take African Americans as prisoners, Confederate soldiers often shot them or returned them to slavery.

Answer the questions using complete sentences in your notebook.

1. What date was the Emancipation Proclamation issued on?

2. What states did the Emancipation Proclamation apply to?

3. What was the freedom of the Emancipation Proclamation dependant upon?

4. How did the Emancipation Proclamation change the focus of the war?

5. What did the Emancipation Proclamation allow black men to do?

6. How many black soldiers fought for the Union during the Civil War?

7. What was the name of the most famous African-American unit that fought during the Civil War?

8. How did they become famous?

9. How did their bravery help the North?

10. Explain how African American soldiers faced grave dangers?


Emancipation Proclamation Worksheet

In your own words, explain what the text below means.

11. "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 designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."

12. “… and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.”

13. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

14. And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

15. Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.