ALPLM to display rare copy of Emancipation Proclamation ahead of Juneteenth celebration
The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill.
Jun. 8—A signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation soon will be on display in Springfield.
Beginning next week, in honor of Juneteenth — the June 19 holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States — the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will display its rare copy of the presidential proclamation issued by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
The ALPLM's copy of the executive order signed by Lincoln and then-U.S. Secretary of State William Seward is one of about two dozen remaining, according to the museum. The proclamation copy will be on display from June 15 through July 6.
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"Few documents in all of American history carry the weight of the Emancipation Proclamation," said ALPLM acting executive director Melissa Coultas. "We are proud to share it with the public and celebrate its connection to such a joyous holiday."
Lincoln issued the proclamation declaring all enslaved people in Confederate states in rebellion against the Union "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free" on Jan. 1, 1863, but it was not until after the Civil War that his words were enforced.
Almost two and a half years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865 to take control of the state and ensure all enslaved people be freed.
Even though slavery was not legally abolished until the 13th Amendment was ratified six months after that "Juneteenth," the anniversary of that historic June 19 is now celebrated annually by many across the U.S.
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While the copy of the Emancipation Proclamation is on display in the ALPLM's Treasures Gallery, windows along one side of the museum will feature a display about the history of Black Americans. The display will include a timeline running from 1787 to 2021, which will look at slavery in Illinois, the 1908 Race Riot in Springfield and the first local Juneteenth celebration in Lincoln's hometown.
On June 17, the ALPLM will host an online discussion featuring historians who will share insight on the 13th Amendment as well as the Underground Railroad and its importance in helping people escape slavery prior to the Civil War.
Deanda Johnson from the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Tim Townsend from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and the ALPLM's Jacob Friefeld will be part of the discussion, which will be broadcast on the ALPLM Facebook Page at 7 p.m.