As the nation celebrates Juneteenth this month, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield will display a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.
There will be no charge to see the proclamation, which bears the signatures of Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. The ALPLM’s copy of the proclamation is one of about two dozen remaining. It will be displayed June 17, June 19-24 and June 27-30 in the ALPLM’s library building, where there is no charge for admission, rather than the museum building. The address is 112 N. Sixth Street in Springfield. The library’s hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
“Few documents in all of American history carry the weight of the Emancipation Proclamation. We are proud to share it with the public and celebrate its connection to such a joyous holiday,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing anyone enslaved in states that were trying to secede from the Union. But the proclamation could not be imposed until Northern troops captured Southern territory. That meant people remained in chains until the end of the Civil War.
Among them were the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, who achieved freedom with the arrival of federal troops on June 19, 1865. The anniversary of that “Juneteenth” became an annual celebration that steadily spread across the country and came to symbolize the end of slavery, although that was not completely abolished until the 13th Amendment was ratified on December 6, 1865.
The ALPLM is also presenting a display about the history of Black Americans and their fight for full citizenship. The graphic appears on windows along one side of the museum and includes a timeline from 1787 to the present that traces slavery in the supposedly free state of Illinois, a riot that targeted Black people in Springfield and Juneteenth celebrations in Lincoln’s hometown. It was developed by Juneteenth Inc. and the Illinois State Museum.