President Lincoln read the first draft of this document [the Emancipation Proclamation] to his Cabinet members on July 22, 1862. After some changes, he issued the preliminary version on September 22, which specified that the final document would take effect January 1, 1863. Slaves in Confederate states which were not back in the Union by then would be free, but slaves in the Border States were not affected. The president knew the proclamation was a temporary military measure and only Congress could remove slavery permanently, but had the satisfaction of seeing the 13th Amendment pass a few months before his death.
The most controversial document in Lincoln’s presidency, its signing met with both hostility and jubilation in the North. After the preliminary version was made public, Lincoln noted, “It is six days old, and while commendation in newspapers and by distinguished individuals is all that a vain man could wish, the stocks have declined, and troops come forward more slowly than ever. This, looked soberly in the face, is not very satisfactory.” However, on the day he approved the final version, Lincoln remarked, “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper.”
Did you, as I did, feel when reading this document that it was similar to what President Obama did by executive action on November 20th, 2014, when he issued his executive action freeing many undocumented immigrant families from the fear of being deported? History repeats itself.