Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory of the Emancipation Proclamation!

The Emancipation Proclamation handout from The Henry Ford, Dearborn, Michigan

Bill Nash at Emancipation Proclamation viewing, June 2011 at The Henry Ford Museum

This was a “once in a lifetime” event-and I wasn’t going to miss it. The original Emancipation Proclamation was to be at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan for 36 hours only. Actually, it was pages 2 and 5 of the document. The other pages shown were not authentic. When Lincoln finished signing the document-it was placed into a book of sorts-so that the five pages were on the back side of each other-is that confusing? At any rate, I saw pages 2 and 5. Page 5 of the document is the last page. It is the page in which Abraham Lincoln signed his name. I saw it!

His signature was smaller in size than I had imagined. Even so, I was awe-struck. I pictured Lincoln sitting at the table with his cabinet members surrounding him as he prepared to sign the paper. Lincoln believed the document would be the most important thing he ever did. He had been shaking hands that day prior to the signing. He wanted to be sure to have a steady hand. He was deliberate and careful. Then—he signed it!!! Though his signature might be smaller than what I had expected, the effect that document had on the United States and the world for the cause of freedom cannot be estimated.
It took me one hour and forty-five minutes standing in line to get to the viewing inside the exhibit. The wait was worth it. The last time the document¬†was “on tour” was 1948. It may not be¬†“out” again with the years I have left living. There were people waiting in line to see the Emancipation Proclamation from every apparent walk of life and color. There were little children. There were elderly folks on scooters. The tour guides said that all during the night people came in droves. There were no photographs allowed. It was an amazing event. I want to thank The Henry Ford Museum for having the exihibit. This is the same museum that houses the Lincoln chair that he was assassinated in. Somehow I now feel like Moses after he saw the burning bush-after he came down from the mountain. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the Emancipation Proclamation!” Praise God!
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6 Responses to “Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory of the Emancipation Proclamation!”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Chris:
    As usual I cannot add anything to that!!! Amen!

  2. Chris says:

    Nice to hear that you got to see it! There was a similar exhibit in 2009 for the Lincoln Bicentennial at the Lincoln Presidential Museum here in Springfield, and I remember waiting 2-3 hours in line to see it. The Gettysburg Address was there too. It really makes you feel close to Lincoln and history to see those things!

    One thing though – the original Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln signed ended up in the Chicago History Museum after Lincoln’s death, where it sadly remained in 1871 during the Great Chicago Fire. So, anything you see now is a copy, though I don’t think that takes away from the feeling of being close to history (it’s as close as we can get now). Lincoln signed many commemorative copies, and I think this stresses the importance Lincoln placed on the document.

    There are also 13 copies (interestingly enough) of the 13th Amendment. The one on display in the museum here is faded so some of the writing is hard to see (this is why documents are not always on display, and why flash photography is prohibited – light damages them!) The fact that Lincoln signed it even though his signature was not required really indicates his support for the measure. I, too, get irritated with how the 13th Amendment is typically ignored in discussions regarding the Emancipation Proclamation – to me you can’t really look at one without looking at the other. They were both part of Lincoln’s strategy to end slavery.

  3. B. Nash says:

    Yes, the 13th Amendment is what is almost always “overlooked” when arguments are made against the Emancipation Proclamation having freed no one and other such criticisms.

  4. Kevin Lindsey says:

    Glad you were able to make it down, I didnt think yo would miss it. I had meetings that prevented me from going. My consolation is that I saw one of the original copies of the Gettysburg address in Lincoln’s handwriting once. I think it great though that they had them Emancipation Proclomation with the 13th ammendment…how appropriate!

  5. B. Nash says:

    Yes, it was amazing. The other thing that I simply forgot to include in the posting was the fact that right next to the Emancipation Proclamation was a display of the 13th Amendment! This was soooo appropriate. As I’ve been saying all along-without the Emancipation Proclamation there would have been no amendment abolishing slavery. Lincoln was a prime mover in that one. He signed his name on it even though it wasn’t expected or “normal” for a president to do so.

  6. Ashlyn says:

    Wow! Just hearing about it give you goose bumps. Now you make me wish I was there!

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