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Emancipation Proclamation

The final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation was taken to Abraham Lincoln at noon on January 1, 1863. Twice the president picked up his pen to sign it, and twice he laid it down. Turning to Secretary of State William Seward, he said, “I have been shaking hands since 9:00 this morning, and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history, it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, ‘He hesitated.’“ The president then took up the pen again and slowly but firmly wrote, “Abraham Lincoln.”

That historic act endeared Lincoln to the world as the Great Emancipator.

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