Student Activity

Activity 1. Introduction to the Emancipation Proclamation

Emancipation Proclamation lithograph.
Photo caption

Emancipation Proclamation lithograph.

Read both the brief description of The Emancipation Proclamation and the transcript of the document from the National Archives below.

  • Upon what authority does Lincoln issue this proclamation?
  • Why is emancipation proclaimed as a "fit and necessary war measure"?
  • Why does the proclamation only apply to slaves in certain states? Why is the geographical location significant?
  • What does Lincoln encourage these freed slaves to do and to refrain from doing?
  • Explain how each of these provisions was expected to contribute to the Union war effort.
  • Comment on the relatively limited emancipation Lincoln proclaimed.
  • How does language of this document contrast with that of Lincoln's more famous speeches like the Gettysburg Address or the Second Inaugural? Why might the bland, legalistic language of the Proclamation be more appropriate in this situation and its purpose?