In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln was torn: with the War Between the States raging, the clarion call to free the slaves was louder than ever. However, to do so, Lincoln feared a backlash from his own Union forces, who were more concentrated on the rebels then the abolitionists. In the end, the 16th President of the United States of America decided to take the higher moral ground, turning the crisis into a true war for liberty, and this culminated in what is now known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
Fast forward 150 years. Although the original printed document was burnt to ashes in the Great Chicago Fire decades ago, its historical prominence and pride lives on. And so does preliminary versions of the Proclamation. So, for its century-and-a-half birthday, you can go check
out the piece of paper that freed millions from bondage until Monday in Harlem.
At the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
on Malcolm X Boulevard, the last remaining copy of the Proclamation hand-written by Lincoln himself will be on display, alongside a preliminary copy of the document that justifies the Constitutional foundation of the decree. In the words of Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the Center's Director, "In 150 years, these documents have not sat next to each other since they were in the presence of President Lincoln."
You can almost hear the buzzing of history nerds from here. Don't worry - we're as excited as you are.More »