The Original Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation
WHERE: Cornell University Rare Books and Manuscripts Vault, Cornell University
WHEN: Saturday, June 10, 2012
This draft was the original document that many believe served to "free the slaves," and has been the layman's lamp post regarding when, why, and where the slaves were actually freed. The interesting thing about this draft, made on the morning of January 1, 1863, is that it contains a legal error at the end of the document: “In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my name and cause the seal of the United States to be affixed.” This phraseology was used to proclaim treaties that had been ratified by Congress. But since the Emancipation Proclamation was Lincoln’s own executive order, the correct phraseology should have been: “In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand...” Lincoln noticed the error at the last minute and, taking no chances, asked that a corrected copy be made. The corrected copy was issued shortly thereafter to force Confederate states to renounce slavery and "let their slaves go," fundamentally creating the black man's new dependence on the white man's land and resources called sharecropping. Cornell's vault holds the manuscript draft with the "wrong" vocabulary. So deep…and I'm ultra-paraphrasing.