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Signed “Authorized Edition” of the Document That Saved America
“All persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free.”
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Document Signed as President, “Authorized Edition” of the Emancipation Proclamation, co-signed by William Seward as Secretary of State, and John Nicolay as Private Secretary to the President. Washington, D.C., January 1, 1863 [but printed and signed 1864]. one page, 17-1/4x 21-3/4 inches, J. Whatman watermarked paper.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. With this Executive Order, he took a decisive stand on the most contentious issue in American history, redefined the Union’s goals and strategy, and sounded the death knell for slavery.
The text of his proclamation reveals the major issues of the Civil War: slave labor as a Confederate resource; slavery as a central war issue; the status of African Americans who escaped to Union lines; courting border states; Constitutional and popular constraints on emancipation; hopes of reunion; questions of Northern acceptance of black soldiers; and America’s place in a world moving toward abolition. The President took the action, “sincerely believed to be an act of justice,” knowing that it might cost him the election.
This “Authorized Edition” was created in 1864 to aid Union troops. It was signed by Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William Seward, and John Nicolay, the President’s private secretary, to be sold at the Philadelphia Great Central Sanitary Fair. In Lincoln’s words, the fairs raised money “to relieve and comfort our brave soldiers.”
Of only 48 copies signed by Lincoln, 26 are known to survive; nearly all are in (or are expected to be donated to) institutions.
Condition. Large, bold Abraham Lincoln signature. The signatures of William Seward and John Nicolay are fine, but as is typical, lighter than the President’s. Conservator’s condition report available on request.
Provenance. Private collection since at least the 1960s.
Follow this link to the full single-item catalogue for The Emancipation Proclamation: