Press/Journalists

Press Release
January 7, 2010

Special Civil Rights Document Display at the National Archives January 14–18

Press Preview of Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation January 14 at 9 a.m.

Washington, DC…The National Archives will feature a special display of the milestone Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from Thursday, January 14, through Monday, January 18, 2010. The press will have an opportunity to preview the document at 9 a.m. on January 14.

The document will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives Building, which is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Winter hours (through March 14) are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., daily. Admission is free, and the building is fully accessible. Metro Yellow and Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter station.

Media attending the preview should use the Special Events entrance on Constitution Avenue and 7th Street, NW. Senior archivist and African-American records specialist Reginald Washington will be available for interviews.

Background on the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862

On Sunday, July 13, 1862, President Lincoln told Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Secretary of State William Seward that he had arrived at a momentous decision: “We must free the slaves,” Lincoln said, “or be ourselves subdued.” That decision, a dramatic departure from his administration’s policies, “was a military necessity absolutely essential for the salvation of the Union,” he explained.

On September 22, 1862, President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In this document he formally alerted the Confederacy of his intention to free all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states. One hundred days later, with the rebellion unabated, President Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation declaring “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas “are, and henceforward shall be free.” Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the nation, it captured the hearts and imagination of millions of Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war.

More records about the road to Emancipation will be part of the most extensive display ever assembled from the National Archives incomparable Civil War holdings when Discovering The Civil War opens in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery on April 30, 2010. The exhibition will allow visitors to take a fresh look the war through little-known stories, seldom-seen documents, and unusual perspectives.

For information on National Archives public programs, call 202-357-5000, or view the Calendar of Events online.

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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.

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