Happy New Year!
From everyone at the Response Action Network, Happy New Year!
History buffs will know that January 1st not only is the date of the first Cotton Bowl, and Paul Revere's birthday, but it is also the date on which of one of the most significant and far-reaching presidential executive orders ever issued went into effect: the Emancipation Proclamation:
President Abraham Lincoln carefully framed the conflict as concerning the preservation of the Union rather than the abolition of slavery. Although he personally found the practice of slavery abhorrent, he knew that neither Northerners nor the residents of the border slave states would support abolition as a war aim. But by mid-1862, as thousands of slaves fled to join the invading Northern armies, Lincoln was convinced that abolition had become a sound military strategy, as well as the morally correct path. On September 22, soon after the Union victory at Antietam, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” While the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave, it was an important turning point in the war, transforming the fight to preserve the nation into a battle for human freedom.
We can debate whether Lincoln had the constitutional authority to issue the Proclamation, and whether it made a bit of difference in the remaining, bloody years of the Civil War, but its historical significance cannot be doubted.
freedom">freedom">Freedom remains a dream for millions of people around the world. If we do nothing else in the New Year, we should rededicate ourselves to the principle that freedom is a natural right of all people, everywhere.