Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 2018

Monday, January 1st. For Americans in 1863, this day was not one especially suited to a greeting of “Happy New Year.” But in a nation riven by Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln used the occasion of the new year 155 years ago to inject a moral component into the crisis by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. It buttressed the Union cause and led — at the war’s end — to slavery’s elimination.

The 1860 Census found the U.S. population to number nearly 31.5 million. Just over 348,000  were listed as free blacks. In today’s all free population of over 323 million Americans, there are nearly 44 million people of African heritage, alone or in combination with other races. 

Profile America is in its 21st year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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