THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION: “DISCOVERING THE CIVIL WAR”: (FEBRUARY 16, 2012 – FEBRUARY 21, 2012)

Next year, during the month of February, 2012, the Houston Museum of Natural Science will be one of the few museums in the United States permitted to display the original documents of the Emancipation Proclamation. The exhibit, entitled Discovering the Civil War, was created by the National Archives and Records Administration and the Foundation for the National Archives. Admission to this exhibit also includes a special presentation of artifacts from the Nau Civil War Collection and pieces from the USS Westfield, on loan from the U.S. Navy’s Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command. The present on-going Civil War exhibit at the HMNS will continue until April 29, 2012.

The original Emancipation Proclamation will go on display at the HMNS from February 16 through 21. Visitors to this most wonderful exhibition will be able to see this magnificent document at the Museum.

The Proclamation text consists of five pages, originally tied together with red ribbons which were attached to the signature page by a wafered impression of the Great Seal of the United States. Though some parts have worn off, most of the ribbon remains, as well as parts of the seal.

This profound document, in the care of the National Archives of the United States (National Archives and Record Administration), was signed by President Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) on January 1, 1863. The Proclamation, declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Iconic black and white photograph of Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.
Abraham Lincoln at age 54, 1863
16th President of the United States
In office March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865

The news of the signing was spread by newspapers, and the new technological communication format of the time—the telegraph.

First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter.

Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only 1%-3% are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by this federal department forever. The Emancipation Proclamation is one such document.

Reproduction of the Emancipation Proclamation at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Zoom)

The Proclamation was limited in the powers it conveyed, applying only to the states that had seceded from the Union and allowing slavery to continue in the loyal border states. The Proclamation also exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control.

Areas covered by the Emancipation Proclamation are in red. Slave holding areas not covered are in blue.

Another fact—the freedom the Proclamation promised depended upon Union military victory. The proclamation also announced the acceptance of Black men into the Union Army and Navy. When the Civil War ended, almost 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors had served the Union in uniform.

In 2011, years after the end of the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation symbolizes freedom and the end of slavery in the United States.

 

A circa 1870 photograph of two children who were likely recently emancipated.

Henry Louis Stephens, untitled watercolor (c. 1863) of a man reading a newspaper with headline “Presidential Proclamation / Slavery”.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science is proud to display this important document during Black History Month.

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION DISPLAY TIMES:

February 16-20:  9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

February 21:        9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Advance ticket purchase is highly recommended.

In addition to the ongoing Civil War exhibit and the up-coming Emancipation Proclamation exhibit, there will also be behind-the-scene tours, distinguished lecture series and a day excursion to the Levi Jordan Plantation Archaeology site. The 2,222-acre plantation, which operated in the 1850s in Texas, produced sugar cane and cotton from the hands of enslaved Black women, men and children, with more than 100 enslaved laborers. Today scholars refer to the site as an “African-American Pompeii” with over 600,000 artifacts excavated telling the story of life leading up to the Civil War and through the Reconstruction era, when a vibrant and self-reliant community of Black Americans occupied the plantation after Emancipation.

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One response to “THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION: “DISCOVERING THE CIVIL WAR”: (FEBRUARY 16, 2012 – FEBRUARY 21, 2012)

  1. Pingback: THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION: JANUARY 1, 1863 | BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

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