So many layers of myth envelop the Emancipation Proclamation and its actual content is often misunderstood. Born in the struggle of Abraham Lincoln’s determination to set slavery on the path to destruction, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation remains a document of debate and conflicting interpretations. What were Lincoln’s real intentions? Was he the Great Emancipator of just a Great Fixer? Or did the slaves free themselves? William E. Hardy is a lecturer at Lincoln Memorial University, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Tennessee, and academic coordinator for the ETHS Teaching American History Grant.
Following Mr. Hardy, Bill Murrah will talk briefly about the African American tradition of celebrating August 8 as “Emancipation Day.” The date is said to be associated with the day on which President Andrew Johnson freed his slaves in 1863. Although no evidence exists to prove or disprove this date or event, Murrah and his research team have documented the traditional celebration, which still take place in some communities, not only in the South but in the Midwest and further.