[LINCOLN, ABRAHAM - EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION] A highly decorative early calligraphic broadside titled Proclamation of Freedom.
A finely rendered calligraphic manuscript in black ink on a large card, likely circa 1865-85, 28 x 20 1/2 inches (71 x 52 cm), headed "Proclamation of Freedom" and offering the text of the January 1st 1863 Emancipation Proclamation beginning with Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States..., the text wrapped around two watercolor portraits inset within a gold border, the upper portrait depicting Lady Liberty and the lower a head and shoulders portrait of Lincoln, at the foot at center is the phase Union Forever. The document housed in its original wooden frame with wood slat backing. Evenly toned, the document is generally well preserved and legible but does have a horizontal break extending through the word Proclamation (corresponding to a loose horizontal slat on the back of the frame), a visible break across the upper right corner, a small closed break just above the N in Proclamation, the left margin with faint evidence of dampstain, a few spots along edges, a brown area over some text in the lower right corner is a loose piece of backing paper (not a stain), some loss to gold borders around portraits, due to the fragile nature of the piece it has not been removed from frame.
Provenance: Alexander Reed (1847-1895), Union Army Veteran and Member of the Grand Army of the Republic (see note)
By descent in the family
A beautifully rendered contemporary manuscript broadside of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation which became law on January 1st 1863 freeing 3.5 million enslaved African Americans in the secessionist Confederate states. This manuscript is notable for the fine calligraphic heading in several styles titling the document Proclamation of Freedom rather than the more customary Emancipation Proclamation. The portraits of Lady Liberty and Lincoln are quite fine and large. The Emancipation Proclamation is the most important document to emerge from the Civil War and Lincoln's text is quite simple yet eloquent as he pronounces: And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons ... And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
The broadside has descended in the family of notable Union Army veteran Alexander Reed whose Civil War service began as a private in the 19th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Reed was soon promoted to Sergeant when the 19th was renamed the 90th Pennsylvania Infantry and folded into the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 3rd Corp of the Army of Virginia and eventually into the Army of the Potomac. Beginning in July 1862, Reed saw extensive action over 90 days in the battles of Cedar Mountain; Rappahannock Station; Throughfare Gap; Groveton & Gainesville; Bull Run; Chantilly; and South Mountain before being wounded by a bullet to the chest on 17 September 1862 in the Battle of Antietam. Somehow Reed was able to attend the roll call at Antietam the following morning, but his health declined and his final action was seen at Fredericksburg that December. After an extensive stay in a military hospital, Reed mustered out of Army service in September 1864, returned to his home at Philadelphia, married, and built a large business as a bookbinder. Active in the veteran's organization The Grand Army of the Republic, Meade Post No. 1 (for those who served under General George Meade), Reed held several posts including his election as Commander in 1894. As such, he was asked to perform the ritual of the G.A.R. over Ulysses S. Grant's remains at his funeral and 20 veterans from the post were asked to accompany Grant's funeral train to New York in 1885. It has been thought that this broadside was a gift for this contribution to Grant's funeral.
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