Two years into a bloody Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln needed something to turn the tide definitively in the Union’s favor. Until then, the primary purpose of the war had been solely to preserve the Union. But on 1 January 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation—largely written by him—that gave the Union renewed reason to fight:

“I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves … are, and henceforward shall be free ….”

The Union’s cause became the total and final abolition of slavery and the emancipation of America’s 4 million slaves.

The Emancipation Proclamation laid the groundwork for a Union victory two long, bloody years later, as well as the emancipation amendments—the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, which abolished slavery, made former slaves citizens, and extended to them (at least, to the men among them) the right to vote. And it continues to inspire Americans in the ongoing fight for civil rights.

In this 150th anniversary year of the end of the Civil War, this new print of the Emancipation Proclamation highlights this document’s important place in our nation’s history. The 18- by 24-inch print makes a display-worthy poster, perfect for framing and display in a home, office, or classroom. A watermark image of the Great Seal of the United States is in the lower right-hand corner, symbolizing President Lincoln’s placement of the seal on the original proclamation to make the document official and valid. An image of an American flag from an 1864 engraving of the proclamation drapes the upper right.

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