Smithsonian Magazine Commemorates 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation with Historic Photo Shoot

December 20, 2012
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Inkwell and Emancipation Proclamation draft with Lincoln's pen

President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863, which ended slavery in Confederate-held territories in the United States. The Proclamation, “sincerely believed to be an act of justice,” was issued as the second year of the Civil War was drawing to a close.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Smithsonian magazine brought together three historic items for a once-in-a-lifetime photo shoot. The photo, taken by Robert Clark, features:

  • An inkwell used by Lincoln to compose a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation (Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History)

  • The first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation (Library of Congress)

  • The pen used by Lincoln to sign the final version of the Emancipation Proclamation (Massachusetts Historical Society)

  • The image accompanies Louis Masur’s article “Forever Free,” which appears in the January 2013 issue of the magazine. In it, Masur examines how one of the most famous proclamations in recent history came about.

The inkwell is on view through Sept. 15, 2013, in the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s exhibition “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and The March on Washington, 1963” at the National Museum of American History. The first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation will go on view from Jan. 3 to Feb. 18, 2013, in the Library of Congress’ ongoing exhibition “The Civil War in America.” The pen will be on display as part of the Massachusetts Historical Society’s exhibition “Forever Free: Lincoln & the Emancipation Proclamation,” which will go on view Jan. 1 to May 24, 2013.

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Note to editors: For a behind-the-scenes look at the photo shoot, view this video produced by Smithsonian magazine.


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Linda St. Thomas