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Letter: Proclamation didn't free slaves

An employee of Robert A. Siegel Galleries, Inc.

An employee of Robert A. Siegel Galleries, Inc. points to an "authorized edition" of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln at Robert A. Siegel Galleries, Inc. (June 26, 2012) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The Emancipation Proclamation freed nobody ["Documenting freedom," News, June 27]. President Abraham Lincoln "emancipated" slaves in states no longer in the Union and over which he had no control. He could have freed them in states like Maryland and Kentucky, as well as the District of Columbia and parts of the South under Union control, but he did not.

In fact, when the military commander in a border state freed the slaves in that state before the proclamation, Lincoln ordered them returned to their masters! Even with regards to the South, the proclamation assures that any state returning to the Union by January 1864 could retain slavery. So much for emancipation!

But if the document was not intended to end slavery, what was its purpose? Lincoln and his generals apparently believed that slaves having been "freed" in the South would rise up in insurrection, which would cause Southern soldiers to desert and return home to protect their families, thus ending any realistic military resistance to the Northern invasion.

But the strategy did not work. Most slaves remained with their white families and protected them when the Yankees came, sometimes to the point of death.

The time has come to cast off myth and embrace facts, especially when the myth wrongly glorifies and exalts events and people. Slavery didn't end until the passage of the 13th Amendment.

Valerie Protopapas, Huntington Station


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