Today marks the 150th Anniversary of the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation where Abraham Lincoln took the bold step, following the Battle of Antietam, of freeing the slaves during the US Civil War. The Proclamation stated:
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
In honor of today, the US National Archives has issued the free ebook: The Meaning and Making of Emancipation: 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
If you are interested in the events leading up to the Proclamation, you may want to watch episode #3 of The Civil war a film by Ken Burns (stream it online by logging in with last name and MVCC Colleague ID #).