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in US history, a declaration issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, freeing the slaves in those territories still rebelling against the Union
Note: In itself, the Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves, because it applied only to rebellious areas that the federal government did not then control. It did not affect the four slave states that stayed in the Union: Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Yet when people say that Lincoln “freed the slaves,” they are referring to the Emancipation Proclamation.