This is NOT the "official" Emancipation Proclamation that was declared on January 1, 1863 and freed slaves in all states in rebellion against the Union. Rather,this was a preliminary document, almost a "trial balloon", if you will, released on September 22, 1862 after the Union victory at Antietam, near Sharpsburg, MD.
The New York Department of Education has a wonderful article about Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, a document that is misunderstood by many people. (For example, not all slave states joined the Confederacy, and slaves in those states that stayed in the Union, such as Maryland, remained in slavery. Of course, the slave owners in the Confederate States of America were not about to free their slaves because Lincoln told them to, so the document was more symbolic than anything else. But what a symbol it was, as I will blog about as we approach the January 1 2013 150th anniversary.) The original copy of the 1863 document was destroyed in the Chicago Fire of October 8-10, 1871.
When you think of the old paperback books yellowing and crumbling in your bookcase (I don't know about you, but I have some) the fact that we can view this document is almost miraculous. What was even more awe-inspiring was being able to see the document at a museum in Binghamton, and at no admission charge, thanks to the New York State Museum, who normally keeps it in their vault. This was part of a traveling exhibit that also included a typed speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 150th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
After about 1/2 hour wait, my spouse and I approached the document. It was in a glass case, with a guard directly in back of it. Groups of 4 were allowed to approach the case, which was about at my waist level, with the guard explaining certain features and answering general questions. No flash photography was allowed, but, amazingly, we could photograph it. Out came my iPhone. The photos aren't the best but we weren't allowed much time to view the display.
Here they are. I have tried to put these left to right, but I don't think I totally succeeded.
Thank you, Roberson Center, for your excellent exhibit and crowd control.