“Constitutionally and politically, the Emancipation Proclamation was a profound mixture of a great statesman’s goodness, caution, and daring.”


On New Year’s Day 1863, President Lincoln signed the proclamation he had promised a hundred days before. Lincoln understood better than anyone the constitutional challenges to emancipation. He took the greatest care to draft the proclamation in terms that could be defended before the highest court in the land. Then in the last weeks of his life, he “left no means unapplied” to getting the Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, approved by Congress.