The Emancipation Proclamation was a combination of two executive orders issued by President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one was issued on September 22, 1862 It declared the freedom of slaves in any state of the Confederacy that didn’t rejoin the Union by January 1, 1863. The second one, issued on January 1, 1863, named the specific states where it applied.

The Emancipation Proclamation was widely derided at the time for freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. In practice, it committed the Union to ending slavery. This was controversial even in the North. He issued the Executive Order by his authority as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.

The proclamation didn’t free any of the slaves in the Border States Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia nor any southern state already under Union control. It did, however, directly affect slaves who had escaped and made it to the Union side. Hearing of the proclamation, more slaves escaped to the Union sides as the Union army pushed further and further south. Thousands of slaves were freed every day until nearly all of them were free by July 1865.

After the war, abolitionists were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, being a wartime measure, had not permanently ended slavery. Many former slave states passed laws against slavery. Some slavery continued to exist legally until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 18, 1865. Although the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free all the slaves, as most people believe, it made the freeing of all slaves inevitable upon Union victory.

The actual Emancipation Proclamation was on display at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park in Little Rock, Arkansas, from September 22 to September 25, 2007, as part of the Little Rock Central High School’s 50th anniversary of integration.