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History As It Happens

Jan 2, 2023

January 1 marked the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, a major step in a process of world historical importance, the abolition of slavery in the United States. Yet nowadays some historians argue that the proclamation was illegal, unconstitutional, or without important consequences for the enslaved. Others contend that the antislavery amendment that followed in 1865 was a betrayal of Black Americans, because it allowed for their "re-enslavement" in prisons. In this episode, historian James Oakes reminds us of the real meaning of Lincoln's proclamation, as it was part of a decades-long effort to rid the U.S. of human chattel slavery and fulfill the promise of our founding documents.