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January 1, 1863: The Emancipation Proclamation

On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that more than 3 million slaves in Confederate territory "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." The Courant published the details of the executive order on Jan. 2 of that year: "Now, for the first time in history, the Government stands unequivocally committed to the support of the fundamental principles on which it was originally founded...inalienable rights as common to all men."