President Abraham Lincoln sits at his desk in a dimly lit room. He holds a quill pen over an aged parchment on which he drafts the Emancipation Proclamation. Silence pervades the room, broken only by the scratch of pen on paper and the occasional flicker of the candle. President Lincoln pauses as he writes, gazing at the words he’s crafting. How times have changed since his early political years, he thinks. How close the country is to bringing an end to the tragedy that is enslavement.
It’s summertime 1862. The Civil War rages. Many are dying. As leader of a divided nation, President Lincoln grapples with how to end the war. In debating issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, he is torn between moral convictions and the political realities of the time, conscious that a decree of emancipation may not be well-received by all, especially those in border states still loyal to the Union but practicing enslavement. Such a decree could push them toward the Confederacy. And he is concerned with the legality of challenging centuries of entrenched law and customs.
Yet, a moral imperative to end human suffering weighs heavily on his conscience. He holds a vision of an America united and free from chains of servitude. For him, the Emancipation Proclamation is not just a political maneuver aimed at weakening the Confederate economy, which could help end the war sooner. It is a beacon of hope, a promise of freedom to four million people.
Drawing a deep breath, his focus returns to the document before him. His hand moves with vigor, penning the words that will forever change the course of American history: “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
As President Lincoln finishes the final sentence, he puts down the quill pen and looks again at the document. His heart is heavy, knowing this decree alone will not end the strife. War will continue, and more lives will be lost. Yet, he clings to the belief that this brings the Union closer to being restored and without enslavement.
The next day, as the sun rises over a divided nation, President Lincoln addresses his people. His voice carries across the crowd, echoing the words of the Proclamation, imbuing the air with a sense of hope and determination. His words are not merely a promise of freedom for the enslaved but a declaration of his steadfast commitment to the idea that all men are created equal.
As the evening draws in, President Lincoln retreats to the solitude of his office. He reflects on the long journey that has brought him to this pivotal moment. Despite the weight of the war, he feels a sense of hope that the Emancipation Proclamation will be a turning point for the nation and the war.
“Proclaiming Freedom: President Lincoln Stands For Liberty” is a work of biographical historical fiction. While based on true events, the story and incidents are fictitious.
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Click here to read a President Lincoln speech from 1863.
Transcript of the Emancipation Proclamation – National Archives / Portrait of President Lincoln taken on November 8th, 1863 by Alexander Gardner / Mead Art Museum / Wikimedia Commons