Presented is a Proclamation of Emancipation wood engraving by W. Roberts. The engraving was published in 1864, just one year after President Abraham Lincoln signed the original Proclamation. W. Roberts was the artist and engraver and Corydon Alexis Alvord was the printer. The engraving was published by R. A Dimmick, in New York, 1864.
The text of the Proclamation is set in a variety of typefaces, which is encased in a pictorial border. The border is decorated with a portrait of Abraham Lincoln and seven other vignettes, including the horrors of slavery at left, the bombardment of Fort Sumter at bottom, and scenes from a prosperous and united nation at right.
On September 22, 1862, five days after the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary decree stating that, unless the rebellious states returned to the Union by January 1, freedom would be granted to slaves within those states. No Confederate states took the offer, and on January 1, 1863 Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation declared, "all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
One-sided and typically printed on large sheets of paper, engraved broadsides emerged in the 19th century. Advances in printing technology made their production inexpensive, making them all the more pervasive. By varying type style and size and including illustrations that could be both bold and elaborate, they had great visual appeal. They aimed to spread news, shape public opinion, and rally people to action. Broadsides were encountered posted on buildings, hung in meetinghouses and pubs, and in framed in homes as decorations. Surviving broadsides allow us to glimpse the making of public opinion in the era of emancipation. The Emancipation Proclamation enjoyed numerous broadside treatments, from simple texts to complex illustrations.
The broadside treatment of the Emancipation Proclamation presented illustrators with an opportunity to shape public opinion. In this example from 1864, the intent of Lincoln's Proclamation is explained through vivid illustrations. The whip, auction block, and slave catchers, depicted at left, are replaced by free labor, education, and economic prosperity, illustrated at right. Lincoln sits above this process in which the destruction of war has given way to peace and good order. In this view, the Proclamation and the abolition of slavery are presented as key to ensuring the nation’s future well-being.
Good condition. Paper has several short closed tears, very light soiling, and is laid down on supporting paper. Presented unframed. Dimensions: 22” H x 17 ¼” W.