Press Release
Press Release · Wednesday, November 26, 1997

Press Release
November 26, 1997
The Original Emancipation Proclamation on Display at the National Archives and Records Administration

Washington, DC . . . The National Archives will display the original Emancipation Proclamation in the Rotunda for one week only, from Friday, January 16, 1998, through Thursday, January 22, 1998. This display will be open to the public on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday on Monday, January 19.

On the opening day of the exhibition, reenactors of the historic 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the most celebrated regiment of black soldiers that fought in the Civil War, will serve as honor guard in a ceremonial watch over the document.

The exhibition will be free and open to the public. The original document signed by Abraham Lincoln will be displayed in a free-standing case located in the National Archives Rotunda, at Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW, from 10 A.M. to 5:30 P.M. daily.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War, formally proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt. The issuance of this Proclamation clarified and strengthened the position of the Union government, decreased the likelihood of European support of the Confederacy and, as the Union armies extended their occupation of the southern states, brought freedom to the slaves in those states. Many historians credit the Emancipation Proclamation with changing the character of the Civil War from a struggle to preserve the Union to a crusade for human liberty. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation was a significant milestone leading to the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865, formally outlawing slavery throughout the nation.

For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or e-mail


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