In honor of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, The State Museum of Pennsylvania will exhibit a rare copy of the document signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The document is on loan to the museum from the Union League of Philadelphia from Jan. 12 to Feb. 3.
On Jan.1, 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation technically did not end slavery, but declared that all slaves in rebellious states were free.
This was a major blow to the Confederacy and transformed the American Civil War into a conflict to end the institution of slavery.
The State Museum will kick-off the exhibit entitled “Emancipation: Lincoln and His Proclamation” with a special presentation by author Harold Holzer on Friday, Jan. 11, at 7:30 p.m.
The program, which focuses on Holzer’s book, “Emancipating Lincoln: The Proclamation in Text, Context and History” is sponsored by the Pennsylvania Heritage Foundation. The event is free and open to the public and affords attendees the opportunity to preview the exhibit.
Holzer, author, co-author or editor of 43 books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, wrote “How Lincoln Ended Slavery in America” (2012), the young adult companion book to director Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed motion picture “Lincoln,” for which he also served as a content consultant.
Holzer is chairman of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. He has won many awards for his writing. In 2008, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President George W. Bush. He has written 500 articles, published 15 monographs, and contributed chapters and prefaces to 50 additional volumes. Holzer currently serves as senior vice president for external affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The featured copy of the Emancipation Proclamation is one of 26 known copies of what is known as the Leland-Boker edition. This “authorized edition” was created in June 1864 for sale at the Great Sanitary Fair of Philadelphia as a means of raising funds to help sick and wounded Union soldiers.
Forty-eight copies were printed and signed by Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and the president’s private secretary John G. Nicolay. Each document sold for $10 each, the equivalent of $250 today.
The State Museum of Pennsylvania, adjacent to the State Capitol in Harrisburg, is one of 25 historic sites and museums administered by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of the Pennsylvania Trails of History®.
The State Museum offers expansive collections interpreting Pennsylvania’s fascinating heritage. With exhibits examining the dawn of geologic time, the Native American experience, the colonial and revolutionary eras, a pivotal Civil War battleground and the Commonwealth’s vast industrial age, The State Museum demonstrates that Pennsylvania’s story is America’s story.
Museum hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children and senior citizens.
For more information about the museum, visit www.statemuseumpa.org.