Emancipation ProclamationUnited States
The Emancipation Proclamation, officially Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War. The Proclamation changed the legal status of more than 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the secessionist Confederate states from enslaved to free. As soon as slaves escaped the control of their enslavers, either by fleeing to Union lines or through the advance of federal troops, they were permanently free. In addition, the Proclamation allowed for former slaves to "be received into the armed service of the United States."
The Emancipation Proclamation was never challenged in court. To ensure the abolition of slavery in all of the U.S., Lincoln also insisted that Reconstruction plans for Southern states require them to enact laws abolishing slavery (which occurred during the war in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana); Lincoln encouraged border states to adopt abolition (which occurred during the war in Maryland, Missouri, and West Virginia) and pushed for passage of the 13th Amendment. The Senate passed the 13th Amendment by the necessary two-thirds vote on April 8, 1864; the House of Representatives did so on January 31, 1865; and the required three-fourths of the states ratified it on December 6, 1865. The amendment made slavery and involuntary servitude unconstitutional, "except as a punishment for crime."