New York’s Schomburg Center to Display Only Surviving Draft of the Emancipation Proclamation

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem will be the first stop for the New York State Museum’s traveling exhibition of the only surviving draft of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in Abraham Lincoln’s handwriting.

On display Sept. 21 through Sept. 24, “The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Proclamation,” will include the draft and the official version of the preliminary document, issued on Sept. 22, 1862. The proclamation changed the course of history by freeing tens of thousands of slaves and laying the foundation for the end of slavery.

The two documents will be displayed along with the manuscript of a Sept. 12, 1962, speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the New York State Civil War Centennial Commission in New York City. Dr. King’s speech — typewritten with handwritten notes throughout — argued that the descendants of slaves were still awaiting civil rights and that government could be a powerful force for change.

The draft copy is “such a handsome, powerful and organic document,” Mark Schaming, director of the New York State Museum said on Wednesday. “It’s on this beautiful old paper and he’s thinking while he’s writing.”

The draft shows, for example, that Lincoln toyed with the idea of compensating slaveholders — a plan he had considered earlier…

Read more: NY Times

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