why was the emancipation proclamation limited in scope

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, June 8, 1861, Library of Congress
One month into the Civil War, three men escaped across the mouth of the James River and entered Fort Monroe, Virginia. With this act, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townshend declared themselves free and triggered a national debate over whether the United States had the right to emancipate the enslaved.


General Benjamin Butler refused to return the men to slavery and classified them as enemy property or in his words Бthe contraband of war. Б The policy and the nickname stuck. Despite the uncertain status of being classified as Бcontraband,Б thousands of African Americans escaped slavery, forcing the hand of the federal government. Emancipation Proclamation summary: The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, as the country entered the third year of the Civil War.


It declared that "all persons held as slaves Б shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free"Бbut it applied only to states designated as being in rebellion, not to the slave-holding border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri or to areas of the Confederacy that had already come under Union control.


The careful planning of this document, with Lincoln releasing it at just the right moment in the war, ensured that it had a great positive impact on the Union efforts and redefined the purpose of the war. The Emancipation Proclamation continues to be a symbol of equality and social justice.

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