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January 1: The Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 2011
LincolnPresident Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was sent out from the White House telegraph office on this date in 1863 by Edward Rosewater, a Jewish telegrapher. The Proclamation freed 3.1 million of the country’s four million slaves, leaving in chains hundreds of thousands of African-Americans in several border states that had not seceded. The freedom Lincoln promulgated was made real by the advancing Union Army, but slavery was not officially abolished throughout the U.S. until December 18, 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was enacted. Rosewater was an abolitionist (born in Bohemia) who went on to serve in the Nebraska Territorial Legislature, to publish the Omaha Bee, and to establish the Omaha public school system. He was also a founder of the American Jewish Committee, immediately before his death in 1906. “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.” —from the Emancipation Proclamation