KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — New Year's Day is not just a time to look ahead at the future. It is also a day to remember all the history that led up to it. Today marks the 157th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation taking effect, transforming the Civil War into a battle for abolition and freedom.
The Knoxville branch of the NAACP will host a celebration service for the anniversary at 11 a.m. in Mount Zion Baptist Church.
When the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, the U.S. was in the middle of the Civil War. The Union had just won at the Battle of Antietam in Sept. 1862. Up until then, the war was framed as an effort to keep the country together.
The Emancipation Proclamation transformed the war into one meant to free the slaves in the rebelling states. In it, just five days after Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln said that all the slaves in rebellious states "shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
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On Jan. 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation took effect.
While it did not actually free slaves in the rebelling states, it refocused the war and renewed its cause. With it, Lincoln transformed the Civil War into a battle to bring freedom to others as well as an attempt to keep a nation together.
Today, 157 years later, the Emancipation Proclamation is still remembered as a major turning point in one of the U.S.'s bloodiest wars and a call for freedom.