The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The Emancipation Proclamation Is 150 Years Old

Jan 7, 2013

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Lincoln 150 years ago, January 1, 1863.

As usual, there is more to the Civil War story than we learn in school. We learn that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. Well, not exactly.

When the South seceded in 1861 and the Civil War began, the North was undecided about the future of the Southern slaves. Lincoln famously wrote, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

After a year and a half of war, the North hadn’t won the quick victory it had hoped for. A new step in the war was necessary. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. The Proclamation only freed slaves who were held in the states that were “in rebellion.” Slaves in the states that were not at war against the union, like Maryland, Tennessee and West Virginia, were not freed.

But the Proclamation set the stage and gave a push to further developments. At the end of the war, Lincoln pushed through Congress the 13th Amendment of 1865, outlawing slavery entirely.

The movie Lincoln, in theaters now, is a Hollywood drama about passing the Amendment. We review it below.