Modern historians occasionally criticize Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, declaring it a hollow document that "freed no slaves."  Is this perspective justified?

Kevin Napier
12/30/2012 11:47:32 pm

This perspective is not justified. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was issued as a threat to the Confederate states. Though none of the southern states bit on the Proclamation, it showed the Confederacy that Lincoln was serious about Emancipation. The hope that the Proclamation instilled in the northern people gave the Union an advantage over the Confederacy.. Black soldiers most likely felt more accepted and as a result were probably more inspired to fight. So, though the Emancipation Proclamation may not have directly freed many, if any slaves, it certainly freed many indirectly.

Chelsea Landor
12/31/2012 04:20:42 am

The Emancipation Proclamation did not free all slaves in the United States, but it did declar free only those slaves living in states not under Union control. The proclamation also establishment black military units among the Union forces. An estimated 180,000 African Americans went on to serve in the army, while another 18,000 served in the navy.
Lincoln's proclamation unified and strengthened his party, the Republicans, helping them stay in power.So therefore this perspective is unjustified.

Gaanploo Somboon
12/31/2012 04:32:42 am

The reason that one may view the document as a hollow document is due to the fact that it was based on Lincoln's constitutional authority as Commander in Chief of the armed forces and not a law passed by Congress. This was because Lincoln did not possess the power to single-handedly eliminate the institution of slavery; it had to be done by a constitutional amendment. Abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher stated that "The Proclamation may not free a single slave, but it gives liberty a moral recognition." Theoretically, the Emancipation Proclamation itself had no effect on slaves in the states bordering North and South or slaves that weren't under the control of southern armies. However, the perspective that it had "freed no slaves" is misleading. The Proclamation was the catalyst that lead to the eventual liberty of millions. It represented a large and important step toward the ultimate goal of abolition of slavery in the United States and signaled "a new birth of freedom." It's effect was holistic; it impacted the legal status of slavery in both the North and the South. Beginning on the day that it took effect, thousands of slaves in the south and the runaway slaves who had escaped and were held by the Union Army were granted the freedom to leave, and thousands more continued to be freed over the course of the war. While it did not have the all-encompassing authority of an amendment, the Emancipation Proclamation was the sole document that justified the freeing of slaves prior to the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment.

Blake Basmajian
1/1/2013 02:37:19 am

I do agree with Kevin on this, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves as the 13th Amendment did, but it allowed for Lincoln to recruit African Americans, a next step toward equality and freedom, but it sent the message that Lincoln desired regarding abolition. Blacks and Whites were fighting side by side against a common force, although they had unequal pay and no possibility of becoming an officer this was a groundbreaking moment in American History The direct freedom of slaves was not given via the Emancipation Proclamation but it planted a seed of liberty in the Union and showed the future direction of our country.

Taylor Dunn
1/1/2013 04:02:14 am

the Emancipation Proclamation wasn't exactly meant for the freedom of all slaves at that very point in time. For people to say that it freed none is completely wrong. This Proclamation was meant as a stepping stone toward the slave free country we ended up forming with the 13th amendment. It was simply the principle of the matter, to show that Lincoln was a force to be reckoned with and that he would push to get freedom for all. By the end of the war, almost 200,000 soldiers and sailors that fought for the Union were black due to the permission granted by this document for them to join the army and fight for their freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation strengthened the Unions powers both politically and militarily through it's moral contribution to the war

Alex Piper
1/1/2013 04:02:25 am

I believe that the emancipation proclamation was held by perspective. The Northern states saw it as an amazing declaration that should the purity of the Union. The South saw it as a provocation and thought that since Lincoln was not elected with their consent that the people did not have to abide by his proclamations. Essentially, my point of view is that the South saw it as one more reason to fight and the North saw it as a justification for their fighting, to free slaves.

Ian Nolan
1/1/2013 04:14:54 am

The perspective that the emancipation proclamation did not free slaves is not a valid one because it did free slaves in rebelling territories that were conquered by union armies. Even though on the other hand it did not free all slaves it was still a huge step towards the right direction to free all slaves but it didn't assure that the slavey would be abolished.

Tanner Flint
1/1/2013 05:12:10 am

This perspective is not rightfully justified. The Emancipation Proclamation may not have freed any slaves initially, but it was far from a hollow document. One main point of the document stated that all slaves in the states of rebellion and secession were to be freed. Of course the Confederacy didn't just free them because Lincoln declared them to be free. This document permitted liberty to slaves when the Union army moved into an area. It practically invited contrabands to come into the union. The Emancipation Proclamation eventually accomplished its purpose of freeing slaves, but it had to be done the way it was for it work.

Tessa Goodine
1/1/2013 07:02:57 am

Saying that the Emancipation Proclamation freed no slaves and was a hollow document is practically the definition of absurd. Sure it held few legal grounds, but is that the only power on this Earth? Look at a good deal of reform movements in Antebellum America, or ever for that matter; are protests and dissension completely useless? No, of course not. It takes a spark and movement in order to get these problems the attention that's required to fix them. Saying that the Emancipation Proclamation is a hollow document is like saying that the "I had a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Junior was useless in the later attaining of rights for African Americans.

Coleman Reardon
1/1/2013 08:07:32 am

I would not say the Emancipation Proclamation was a "hollow document" but I do believe this statement in that it did not free slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was the first step in the total abolishment of slavery. However, the slave owners of the southern seceded states did not feel that Lincoln had any authority over their decisions. True, the Proclamation did make it easier for Union troops to free those slaves whose owners had their land occupied by the Union army and it gave slaves more conviction and courage to escape, but the Emancipation Proclamation did not do the job it was meant to do.

Nate Woodcock
1/1/2013 08:27:33 am

I believe the Emancipation Proclamation was the necessary step to improvement of our nation but it did not free slaves like the 13th Amendment did. The proclamation freed only slaves in the states that were "currently in rebellion" so Lincoln really had no power to enforce this law in an area (Confederacy) he did not control but as the Union army advanced slaves were freed. The proclamation allowed African American soldiers to fight for the Union in a time where soldiers were desperately needed. Though the proclamation did not immediately free slaves it allowed slaves to be freed as the Union progressed. This Emancipation Proclamation did not directly free slaves but it was a necessary step in American history which would lead to the 13th Amendment where slavery would be abolished in the United States.

Courtney Densmore
1/1/2013 10:56:32 am

, the Union position bolstered, and the proclamation was successful. Slavery was officially prohibited on January 31st, 1865 in the Thirteenth Amendment. On a side note, the Emancipation Proclamation also changed popular thinking and military policy with respect to black soldiers. While citizenship for African Americans was not supported, blacks had risen in a great rebellion against slavery through their military service.With respect to the opinions of modern historians, I disagree with this belief. One may consider the proclamation "hollow" because it did not immediately free a single slave, but over time, as the Union army advanced, slaves were eventually freed. Lincoln defends his choice as doing what was morally right, which is true. The success of the proclamation depended on two things: the political success of the Republican Party and the military victories of the Union armies. After successful victories such as Vicksburg and Gettysburg,

Courtney Densmore
1/1/2013 10:59:03 am

From the Union to military service should be after Gettysburg. My smart phone isn't very smart.

Hannah Murphy
1/1/2013 11:29:09 am

To say that the Emancipation Proclamation freed no slaves is not justified. Even though the proclamation did not free slaves immediately, does not mean that it had no impact in the freeing of slaves. It had pushed slavery "to the edge of Niagara". Eventually, the union troops took action and "swept it over the brink".

Ivana Cooke
1/1/2013 12:11:55 pm

I believe that the perspective of some modern historians that the emancipation proclamation is a hollow document that freed no slaves is justified. At the time that the proclamation was issued the union was already in the midst of the civil war. Also, the proclamation only applied to states that had seceded from the nation which did not do any good because the seceded states did not even consider Lincoln as their president. Although it eventually it had an impact on slavery and the topic of equality at the time it was issued it was nothing but a hollow document.

Paige Hawkins
1/1/2013 12:29:45 pm

I agree with Ivana, at the time Lincoln had issued the proclamation in 1863 the union was in the midst of the Civil War therefore the perspective of this statement is justified. Lincolns Emancipation did not free all slaves but it declared all slaves free in states not under union control.


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