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Emancipation Proclamation issued 160 years ago today

The reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Civil War was the darkest period in American history. But from the midst of the horror came a moment of hope.

Today marks the 160th anniversary of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued by President Abraham Lincoln on Sept. 22, 1862, just five days after the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day in American history.

The Proclamation provided a beacon to millions of enslaved Blacks, and helped change the ideology of the war from Union preservation to Black freedom.

“The Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most significant documents in American history,” Kathryn Harris, the retired director of library services at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois. “It re-shaped our country in an attempt to have us live up to the principles and ideals of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal.”

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