Published: September 28, 2012

50 years ago this month, President Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. In it, he announced that on January 1, all slaves in rebellious states would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Today, Lincoln is remembered as “The Great Emancipator” — but the story is much more complicated.

On this episode, the History Guys set out to understand the way Americans thought about emancipation in 1862, and reflect on the ways its meanings have shifted since then. Along the way, they make stops at the Emancipation Memorial in Washington D.C., the Civil War centennial commemorations in the height of the Civil Rights Era, and the former capital of the Confederacy. And they hear the voices of former slaves themselves, remembering their first experiences of freedom.