Prologue to Emancipation

By Paul C. Binotto

President Abraham Lincoln, emboldened by the recent victory at Antietam, has unleashed what he hopes will be the decisive offensive against the Confederacy; and it won’t take place on the battlefield.

Seated at his desk at the White House, surrounded only by his closest Secretaries, the President’s swift pen striking across the page was all that broke the silence that had fallen over the room; every man muted in awe at the gravity behind that single action. Not since the signing of the Declaration of Independence did the very future of a people balance so precariously on the point of a pen.

If the move is successful, it could bring some of the rebelling states back into the Union and bring the war to a faster end. If it is to fail, the war could drag on for years, and nearly three years of brutal fighting could have been for naught, and the Nation never restored. For millions of African slaves, the moment represents the first glimmer of dawn to rise on the American horizon in 243 years. 

For Lincoln it could seal his fate as either the man who saved his nation, or the one who presided over its downfall. Whatever the outcome, one thing is self-evident. In a little over three months, he will have secured, for however long it may last, what the Revolutionary War and the Constitution failed to secure for every man, regardless of their skin color – the rightful enjoyment in their “unalienable Rights…Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. And, the approving nod of his Creator.

On Monday, Sept. 22, 1862, President Lincoln signed a preliminary Executive Order…


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