On Jan. 1, 1863, the formal and definite Emancipation Proclamation was issued. The President, by virtue of his powers as commander in chief, declared free all those slaves residing in territory in rebellion against the federal government "as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion." Congress, in effect, had done as much in its confiscation acts of Aug., 1861, and July, 1862, but its legislation did not have the popular appeal of the Emancipation Proclamation—despite the great limitations of the proclamation, which did not affect slaves in those states that had remained loyal to the Union or in territory of the Confederacy that had been reconquered. These were freed in other ways (see slavery). Nor did the proclamation have any immediate effect in the vast area over which the Confederacy retained control. Confederate leaders, however, feared that it would serve as an incitement to insurrection and denounced it.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.