Skip to main content

NEH Commemorates the 150th Anniversary of Emancipation

On September 22, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln, emboldened by the Union Army’s strategic victory at the Battle of Antietam, issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, publicly declaring his intention to make abolition a goal of the war.

This September the National Endowment for the Humanities sponsored a series of events Emancipation Nation: Celebrating Freedom on Constitution Day to mark the 150th anniversary of this momentous occasion.

Emancipation Nation panel discussion

NEH sponsored a panel discussion by five prominent Civil War scholars of pre-Emancipation life and the events that led to the issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The discussion was live-streamed on September 17 from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, thanks to the generosity of the History Channel. The panel, moderated by University of Richmond President Edward L. Ayers, featured historians Eric Foner of Columbia University, Thavolia Glymph of Duke University, Gary Gallagher of the University of Virginia, and Christy Coleman from the American Civil War Center in Richmond, Virginia. Watch video of the discussion: 

Celebrating Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial

US Congressman John Lewis reflected on the struggle for freedom at a public performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial sponsored by NEH and Howard University. Actors Alfre Woodard and Tyree Young read excerpts from slave narratives and the writings of Frederick Douglass; Howard University’s Afro Blue jazz vocal ensemble sang "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Watch video of the event:

Emancipation Nation Student Contest

NEH is sponsoring a student contest for young people 18 years of age or older to submit essays or other original works based on documents presented in two NEH-funded digital projects: The Freedmen and Southern Society Project and Visualizing Emancipation. Winners will receive cash prizes and a trip to Washington. Deadline for submissions is October 5. Click here for information on how to enter the student contest.

Resources on Emancipation:

EDSITEment, NEH's educational website, offers a number of lesson plans and student activities related to Emancipation, the Civil War, and the Constitution.  Click here to see a selection of EDSITEment resources.

The History Channel, a partner in the Emancipation Nation events, has two videos exploring the history of emancipation and the Civil War:

Emancipation Proclamation: History Channel Video Civil War Turning Point: History Channel Video

Click here for additional partner resources and a timeline of Emancipation.

Howard University Logo     History Channel Logo