On the first day of the year the traditional White House reception was held. And that particular New Year's Day would always stand out for a truly historic act: President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Newspapers at the beginning of 1863 were largely focused on the relentlessly grim news of the war, yet some stories had an uplifting tone. The end of slavery in America was coming into sight.
The links below lead to excerpts from the vintage newspaper articles. On the excerpt pages you may click the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress.
- The Washington National Republican, January 2, 1863: An article about the New Year's Day reception at the White House alluded to the proclamation and whether the president had signed it yet.
- New York Tribune, January 2, 1863: Horace Greeley's newspaper had previously blasted Lincoln for not moving fast enough on emancipation, but rejoiced in issuing a special EXTRA edition.
- New York Tribune, January 3, 1863: Dispatches from Boston and Albany noted celebrations in the northern cities.
- Dayton Daily Empire, January 3, 1863: News sent by telegraph from Virginia appeared in an Ohio newspaper: more than 4,000 "contrabands," meaning former slaves, had joyously celebrated "the downfall of African slavery" in a part of Virginia held by federal troops.
- The Cleveland Morning Leader, January 3, 1863: An article noted the great significance of President Lincoln's action. "The Day of Jubilee has arrived," it said. "And the all-potent words 'Be Free' have been spoken."
Photograph: Abraham Lincoln, 1863, by Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress
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