President Lincoln Is Grateful For Much-Needed Public Support For His Emancipation Proclamation

The only known letter of Lincoln from January 1863 relating to or mentioning emancipation we have found reaching the market

Purchase $70,000

He writes a composer thanking him for sending a copy of his new “Emancipation March,” published by the same firm that published “The Battle Cry of Freedom”

On March 4, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Inaugural Address to a nation in peril, divided over the issue of slavery. He explained his...

Read More

President Lincoln Is Grateful For Much-Needed Public Support For His Emancipation Proclamation

The only known letter of Lincoln from January 1863 relating to or mentioning emancipation we have found reaching the market

He writes a composer thanking him for sending a copy of his new “Emancipation March,” published by the same firm that published “The Battle Cry of Freedom”

On March 4, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Inaugural Address to a nation in peril, divided over the issue of slavery. He explained his belief that secession was unconstitutional and that he intended to do all in his power to save the Union. In addition, just as he had promised throughout the election campaign, he emphasized, “…I have no purpose…to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists…I have no inclination to do so…” Though Lincoln personally hated slavery, his priority was saving the Union, and he thus tried to reassure the South by saying he had no desire or right to make the abolition of slavery his goal. But the Southern states did not return to the Union, in fact four more states seceded, and a month into Lincoln’s term, Fort Sumter was fired upon and the Civil War commenced.

In 1861 and 1862, the Union armies experienced repeated defeats in the crucial Eastern theater. There was Bull Run and Second Bull Run, Stonewall Jackson’s big win in the Shenandoah Valley, the string of debacles in the Virginia Peninsular campaign, the rise of the formidable Robert E. Lee in that campaign, the loss of hope of taking Richmond, and many more setbacks. Across the Union there was widespread exasperation with both the Army of the Potomac and the Lincoln administration, and a growing uncertainty that the war could be won. In early 1862 Lincoln would lament, “the bottom is out of the tub.”

As a result of these factors, by July 1862 the President had decided that emancipation of the slaves was a military necessity. Lincoln knew that many thousands of enslaved people were ready to fight for the Union. He wrote, “This is not a question of sentiment or taste, but one of physical force which may be measured …Keep [that force] and you can save the Union. Throw it away, and the Union goes with it.”

So on September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation declaring that all slaves in states which were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” This caused a firestorm in the North, as while many praised the President, opposition was strong and vocal. In the upcoming Congressional elections of 1862, the Democrats fought on a fierce anti-emancipation platform, with one delegate at their conference adapting their slogan to read; ‘The Constitution as it is, the Union as it was, and the Negroes where they are.’ The correspondence of soldiers in the field indicates that quite a number were against emancipation, and some threatened to throw down their arms if the war came to be about freeing Negroes rather than saving the Union. The election results in November 1862 seemed to endorse Democratic opposition to emancipation, with a net gain for them of 36 Congressional seats; they won other victories too, including the governorships of New York and New Jersey.

But Lincoln persevered. On January 1, 1863, he used his authority as Commander in Chief under the U.S. Constitution to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. He stated the military necessity of his action, ordered slaves freed in areas that were in rebellion against the U.S., declared that the military would enforce their freedom, and received former slaves into the U.S. military. Upon signing the Proclamation, Lincoln affirmed that he had never felt “more certain that I was doing right.”

Lincoln needed support now more than ever, and it was all the more satisfying if the support was public and helped enlist others to reach similar conclusions. George E. Fawcett was a teacher of instrumental music at Greenwood Academy in Muscatine, Iowa. He had published a number of previous musical compositions, and he was in the President’s corner. In late 1862, he wrote “The President’s Emancipation March” and dedicated it to Abraham Lincoln. The sheet music was published and disseminated by the well-known Chicago-based music publishing firm Root & Cady, which was the most successful music publisher of the Civil War and published many of the war’s most popular songs. The firm’s founders were Chauncey Marvin Cady and E. T. Root, whose older brother was George F. Root, one of the Civil War’s greatest composers whose his biggest hit was “The Battle Cry of Freedom”. The cover of the sheet music for Fawcett’s song was plain with a simple black line border centered on the cover. The title is printed in large, black-shaded lettering at a horizontal angle. It contains text that reads: “Dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, A foe to Tyrants, and My Country’s Friend”, and above this is a poem stanza attributed to John Greenleaf Whittier. “The President’s Emancipation March” was well-received, and being celebratory, doubtless assisted in generating support for both Lincoln and emancipation. A copy of the sheet music is in the American Memory section of the Library of Congress.

After the January 1 proclamation date, Fawcett sent a copy of the march to President Lincoln himself. Lincoln soon responded. Letter Signed on Executive Mansion letterhead, Washington, January 26, 1863, to Fawcett. “Allow me to thank you cordially for your thoughtful courtesy in sending me a copy of your “Emancipation March.” The body of the letter is in the handwriting of Lincoln’s secretary, future Secretary of State, John Hay.

Our research found that Lincoln wrote about or mentioned emancipation by name in just three letters during that month. One, written to John A. McClernand on January 8, was an important defense of the proclamation; it sold two decades ago for some $750,000 and is now owned by a foundation. The other two letters were references to the proclamation; one was sent to John W. Forney on January 18, and it is in an institution; the other is this letter to George Fawcett.

Purchase Now $70,000

Frame, Display, Preserve

Each frame is custom constructed, using only proper museum archival materials. This includes:The finest frames, tailored to match the document you have chosen. These can period style, antiqued, gilded, wood, etc. Fabric mats, including silk and satin, as well as museum mat board with hand painted bevels. Attachment of the document to the matting to ensure its protection. This "hinging" is done according to archival standards. Protective "glass," or Tru Vue Optium Acrylic glazing, which is shatter resistant, 99% UV protective, and anti-reflective. You benefit from our decades of experience in designing and creating beautiful, compelling, and protective framed historical documents.

Learn more about our Framing Services