Rare Opportunity to View Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in Raleigh

[This press release comes to us via Bill Brown, Registrar for the State Archives of North Carolina. ]

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most significant documents in United States history. President Abraham Lincoln issued the document on Sept. 22, 1862, after the Union victory at Antietam (also called the Battle of Sharpsburg).

Signed by President Lincoln, the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation ordered that in 100 days the federal government would free all slaves in the states still rebelling against the Union. The document formally alerted the Confederacy of Lincoln’s intention. On Jan. 1, 1863, with the Confederacy still in full rebellion, the president issued the final Emancipation Proclamation.  

You will have a rare opportunity to see the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh from Wednesday, May 15, through Sunday, June 16, 2013. This historical seven-page document is on loan from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Admission is free.

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation will be highlighted in the exhibit Freedom Coming, Freedom for All, which is presented by the North Carolina Freedom Monument Park and the North Carolina Museum of History. A second phase of the exhibit, opening July 1, will feature the 13th Amendment.

“As a milestone on the path to slavery’s final abolishment, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of human freedom,” says Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero. “We are honored to share this official Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation for the exhibit Freedom Coming, Freedom for All at the North Carolina Museum of History.”

The exhibit focuses on the status of North Carolina before the Civil War, events leading up to Lincoln’s issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, and outcomes of the document in the state and nation. Freedom Coming also examines the differences among the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, the final Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.

“We are honored to join with North Carolina Freedom Monument Park and the National Archives to present Freedom Coming, which is especially relevant during the sesquicentennial of the 1863 signing of the final Emancipation Proclamation,” emphasizes Ken Howard, Director of the N.C. Museum of History. The exhibit marks the longest period the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation has been on view since 2004.

Adds Dianne Pledger, Executive Director of North Carolina Freedom Monument Park, “What we will achieve through this partnership is an exploration of the deeper ramifications of the Emancipation Proclamation and its influence on society in subsequent years. By doing so, we hope to increase historical awareness and civic engagement about the importance of freedom for all people. The Emancipation Proclamation is a reminder of our ongoing obligation to learn our history because it reminds us of our mistakes and successes.”

Freedom Coming conveys how securing freedom for all was more of a process than a single act or proclamation, and the exhibit highlights North Carolina’s unique role in that process,” notes Earl Ijames, Curator of African American History at the N.C. Museum of History.

Phase Two of Exhibit Highlights 13th Amendment

Freedom Coming will reopen with a second phase on Monday, July 1. Phase two features original copies of the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery in the United States (except for punishment for crime) and nullified the antebellum slave codes (laws). The movie “Lincoln” centers on this life-changing document.

Bisitors at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture view the historic document on loan from the National Archives

The N.C. Museum of History will feature the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in an exhibit opening May 15. In this photograph, visitors at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture view the historic document on loan from the National Archives, Sept. 21, 2012. Photograph by Terrence Jennings.

Phase two will be presented in two parts.

July 1 through Oct. 6: North Carolina’s original copy of the 13th Amendment will be on view. Visitors also will see a letter from U.S. Sec. of State William Seward to Gov. Zebulon Vance about the document. Both are on loan from the State Archives of North Carolina.

In 1865 the North Carolina Constitutional Convention ratified the 13th Amendment (and 14th Amendment) in order for North Carolina to be readmitted to the Union.

Oct. 14, 2013, through Jan. 26, 2014: The exhibit will feature Massachusetts’ copy of the 13th Amendment. After the amendment’s adoption by the U.S. House of Representatives in January 1865, members of Congress, VicePresident Hannibal Hamlin and President Lincoln signed several commemorative copies of the 13th Amendment for the U.S. Sanitary Commission. A secretary provided Lincoln’s signature. The commission sold these signed copies to raise money for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Col. Henri Crandall, the Adjutant General of Rhode Island, owned the copy that will be on view.

Traveling Version of Exhibit

On Monday, July 1, a traveling version of Freedom Coming, comprised of eight informational panels (no original documents), will be available for museums, historic sites, and other organizations across North Carolina. For more information call 919-224-0480 or e-mail info@ncfmp.org.

Major sponsors of Freedom Coming are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; Mechanics and Farmers Bank; News & Observer; North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities; North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; PNC; Radio One; and Spectacular Magazine. Additional support is provided by Epiphany Public Relations of N.C., LLC; the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission and the State Archives of North Carolina.

For further information about the Museum of History, call 919-807-7900 or access ncmuseumofhistory.org or Facebook. To schedule tours for groups of 10 or more, sign up online at nccapvisit.org.

PLEASE NOTE: No photography is permitted in the exhibit. Light levels will be low.     

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About the North Carolina Museum of History

The museum is located at 5 E. Edenton Street, across from the State Capitol. Parking is available in the lot across Wilmington Street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The Museum of History, within the Division of State History Museums, is part of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

About North Carolina Freedom Monument Park

Through beautiful public art and educational programs, North Carolina Freedom Monument Park is a community-initiated effort that will honor what freedom means to all people in North Carolina. The organization’s goals are to create and strengthen bonds among diverse people;  educate and enhance mutual understanding; and serve as a model of cooperation, respect and common values. North Carolina Freedom Monument Park, planned for completion by 2017, will honor the African American experience and affirm the struggle for freedom for all by the creation of a public art park on a large corner space near the State Legislative Building and State Library, a spot visited daily by thousands of tourists, schoolchildren and local community. For more details, go to www.ncfmp.org or Facebook.

About the National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., is an independent federal agency that preserves and shares with the public records that trace the story of our nation, government and the American people. From the Declaration of Independence to accounts of ordinary Americans, the holdings of the National Archives directly touch the lives of millions of people. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers and presidential libraries, and online at www.archives.gov.

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation is just one of the millions of Civil War records held by the National Archives. Its rich reservoir of Civil War records includes presidential telegrams, official battle reports, and correspondence between generals, but also individual soldier and sailor service records, maps, patent drawings, photographs, recruiting handbills, and petitions to Congress. The Records of the Freedmen’s Bureau document the initial transition from slavery to freedom after the war.

About the North Carolina Humanities Council

The North Carolina Humanities Council is a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National     Endowment for the Humanities. The Humanities Council serves as an advocate for lifelong learning and thoughtful dialogue about all facets of human life. It facilitates the exploration and celebration of the many voices and stories of North Carolina’s cultures and heritage. In addition

to grants, awards and publications, the Council offers the Road Scholars speakers bureau; the Let’s Talk About It library discussion series; Museum on Main Street, a traveling exhibition in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution and rural communities statewide; the Teachers Institute, a professional development program for the state’s public school educators; and Literature and Medicine, a scholar-facilitated book discussion group for hospital staff to reflect on the larger mission of medicine. To learn more about the North Carolina Humanities Council, visit http://www.nchumanities.org, or get information on Facebook and Twitter.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan W. Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission to enrich lives and communities creates opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the North Carolina Arts Council, the North Carolina Symphony and the North Carolina Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and economic stimulus engines for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state, developing and supporting access to traditional and online collections such as genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported symphony orchestra, the State Library, the North Carolina Arts Council and the State Archives of North Carolina. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call 919-807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

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