Tuesday, January 1, 2013
150 years ago: On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the final Emancipation Proclamation, ending slavery in the rebel states. The act expanded the Civil War’s goal from reunification to include abolition. It also shrewdly sabotaged Confederate efforts to be recognized by foreign governments, especially Great Britain (which had abolished slavery in 1833). After the Proclamation, the Southern cause became a defense of slavery, thus jeopardizing foreign aid. Lincoln admitted that he never "felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper." The tradition of a “Watch Night” was established on Dec. 31, 1862, as abolitionists and others waited for word (via telegraph, newspaper or word of mouth) that the Proclamation had been issued. Pictured: Commemorative stamp, designed as a broadside, U.S. Postal Service, 2013.