The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

The First Step to Freedom: The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

February 11, 2020 to March 1, 2020
West Gallery

President Abraham Lincoln issued two emancipation proclamations—one on September 22, 1862, and another one hundred days later. In the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln declared that all slaves would be “forever” free on January 1, 1863, unless the Confederate states returned to the Union. Lincoln followed through with his promise, and on New Year’s Day 1863 he signed the final Emancipation Proclamation.

The document on display in the New York State Museum, from the collection of the New York State Library, is a draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation written in Lincoln’s own hand. This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about this groundbreaking document that changed the fate of the nation.