The Emancipation Proclamation : The End Of Slavery

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On January 1, 1863, sitting President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a document decreeing the end of slavery throughout the United States of America. While symbolic at the time (the self-proclaimed and effectively sovereign Confederate States of America had no intention of recognizing a law issued by a political body with which it was currently at war, and whose authority it did not recognize) it was undebatably a momentous and powerful decision that would forever change the fabric of the American social and political paradigm. Insofar as it symbolically freed the African-American population from slavery, the document did little to improve the plight of the more than four million members of said population formerly held in bondage in the Southern United States in the times following the war. In fact, the end of legal slavery in these areas only led to continued and unofficial de facto bondage, sanctioned and enforced by local governments. In this way, it can be inferred that the plight of the African Americans in the South continued to in one form or another be more or less the same in the half-century following emancipation.

The distinction between ”freedom” and “slavery”, while seeming to be stark, is only in fact academic. Many conditions endured by those who, in history, have been considered “free” are arguably similar to those suffered by their enslaved counterparts. For example, who is to say that the plight of a Pakistani immigrant worker in
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