The Proclamation of Emancipation By the President of the United States, To Take Effect January 1st, 1863n.p. [Boston]: [John Murray Forbes], . First edition in book or pamphlet form; 32mo.; 7 pages; wrappers; Monaghan 147; Eberstadt 7: "The only edition of the preliminary proclamation issued in pamphlet form." Slight creasing; a fine copy of a rare book. Issued by Boston industrialist John Murray Forbes, said to be one of a million copies printed for distribution to blacks by Union troops (see Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes. Boston, 1899). That number seems highly unlikely given the booklet's rarity; Eberstadt located six copies, including his own; six copies are located by OCLC; only two have appeared at auction in the last 25 years, and we have seen a handful elsewhere in the market. The Proclamation freed slaves only in those states, or parts of those states, which were in rebellion to the Union; a controversial half-measure: half too much for conservatives; half too little for abolitionists. While of doubtful constitutionality (a defect cured by eventual amendment), it was an important strategic, political and moral decision by Lincoln in secret from his divided cabinet. It did have the effect of undercutting foreign support for the Confederacy, particularly by the cotton-hungry British, and it eventually led to the recruitment of black Union regiments. Forbes was an abolitionist who contributed to raising those troops, including the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteers.
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