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A rare original copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation sold Tuesday at a New York auction for more than $2 million.
It’s the second-highest price ever paid for a Lincoln-signed proclamation – after one owned by the late Sen. Robert Kennedy that went for $3.8 million two years ago.
The latest copy of the 1863 document ordering the freeing of slaves, which was auctioned at the Robert Siegel Auction Galleries, went to David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group investment firm. The American seller remained anonymous.
The $2.1 million purchase price includes a buyer’s premium.
This price and the one for the Kennedy copy are the highest ever paid for the proclamation, reflecting a “growing appreciation for documents that capture the most important moments in our history,” said Seth Kaller, a dealer in American historic documents and expert on the Emancipation Proclamation; he’s handled eight signed copies.
The document will go on public exhibit somewhere in Washington, he said. The name of the institution is yet to be announced.
Lincoln signed the proclamation during the Civil War, freeing all slaves in states then in rebellion. The proclamation also provided a legal framework for the emancipation of millions of other slaves as the Union armies advanced.
Forty-eight copies were subsequently printed, with Lincoln signing all of them.
The president donated them to the so-called Sanitary Commission, a precursor of the modern Red Cross that sold the documents privately to provide medical care to Union soldiers.
Only about half of the 48 proclamation copies have survived.
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On this date in 1862, the nations capitol ended slavery. President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, an important step in the long road toward full emancipation and enfranchisement for African Americans.
Before 1850, slave pens, slave jails, and auction blocks were a common site in the District of Columbia, a center for domestic slave trade. This included compensation to slave owners for their lost “property” in a total amount of $993,407 dollars.
On this date in 1861, the Civil War began. This war is also referred to as “The War Between the States”, “The War of Rebellion”, or “The War for Southern Independence.”
In February of that year, a newly elected Abraham Lincoln left his home in Springfield, Illinois, for the White House. On reaching Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, security measures were needed to insure his safety. His inaugural address, delivered on March 4th, was conciliatory in tone, and was unpleasing to the South, though giving them hopes of a non-interference policy with the slavery issue. In April the first, real military action was taken by Lincoln’s administration. Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, was under pressure from a Confederate force. Was it to be given up without a struggle. The answer to this vital question was clear to Lincoln, evacuate the fort.
That month, a Union fleet sailed southward acting on this purpose. As soon as this came to the knowledge of the leaders at Charleston hostilities were stepped up. The South told the Union officer in charge (General Anderson) to evacuate the fort at once. On April 12, he offered to leave on the 15th if he did not receive government aid by that date. The Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard gave him one hour to decide, or they would open fire on the fort. At twenty minutes past four A.M. that morning, the first mortar was fired from Sullivan’s Island announcing the Civil War had begun.
The war lasted until May 26, 1865, when the last Confederate army surrendered. The war took more than 600,000 lives, destroyed property valued at 5 billion dollars, brought freedom to 4 million Black slaves, and opened wounds that have not yet completely healed.