6 Facts You May Not Know about the Emancipation Proclamation

Many remember the Emancipation Proclamation as the order that “freed the slaves” but here are six facts you may not know.

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. Many remember it as the order that “freed the slaves” but here are six facts you may not know.

1) Spurred by a slim Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation back in September 1862, but it did not actually go into effect until January 1, 1863.


2) The proclamation was extremely limited in scope. For one, it only applied to the eleven states that had seceded from the Union and left loyal border states that allowed slavery (Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Delaware) unaffected.

3) Any states or parts of states in the Confederacy that had already come under Union control were exempted from the proclamation.

4) The proclamation allowed for Black people to enlist and fight as soldiers in the military against the Confederacy. As many as 200,000 Black people joined Union forces in the Civil War.

5) The Emancipation Proclamation was not Lincoln’s first such order. In April of 1862, Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act which freed enslaved people in the nation’s capital, Washington, DC. It paid slave holders $300 per person they released and $100 to a Black people who chose to emigrate to another country.

6) The effectiveness of the proclamation depended on the Union winning the Civil War which was still uncertain by the beginning of 1863.


For all of its limitations, the Emancipation Proclamation sent an undeniable message: Should the Union prevail, the United States would be a nation free from race-based chattel slavery.


The Emancipation Proclamation was considered a moral document that moved the nation closer to its stated ideals of liberty and justice for all

Lincoln wrote:

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

Read the full text of the Emancipation Proclamation HERE.