|Lincoln reads the Emancipation Proclamation|
Lincoln had been planning for some time to issue an emancipation proclamation, but he had been waiting for a Union victory so that it would not look like a last ditch attempt to win. Antietam, although not as great a victory has he hoped for, gave him the opportunity he was looking for.
Lincoln's proclamation said:
I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America, and commander-in-chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the states and the people thereof, in which states that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.
That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave states, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which states may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent with their consent upon this continent or elsewhere....
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; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such state shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such state, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.
Lincoln said he had authority to do this because it was a war measure. However, the whole war for the preservation of the Union was based upon the principle that the states attempting to secede were really part of the Union. If that is true the president did not have the right do emancipate the property of southerners if he could not do it in peace time.The Emancipation Proclamation was not a humanitarian document. It only declared the slaves free in territory not under the control of the United States. Therefore, unless the Union army was victorious in the war, the slaves would remain in their servitude. It also gave the Confederates the chance to save their slaves by returning to the Union before January 1st, 1863. or receive compensation for them through an (unconstitutional) act of Congress.