Thenceforward and Forever Free [Rebroadcast]
On January 1, 1863 – 150 years ago this week – President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It declared that all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Today, Lincoln is remembered as “The Great Emancipator,” but the story of emancipation is complex and contradictory. And the question of how we choose to commemorate this anniversary can be touchy.
On this episode, we set out to understand the way Americans thought about emancipation in 1862, and reflect on its shifting meanings since then. Along the way, we 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 today. And we hear the voices of former slaves themselves, remembering their first experiences of freedom.
- David Blight, Professor of American History, Yale University
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor, The Atlantic
- Christy Coleman, President, American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
- Kirk Savage, Professor of the History of Art & Architecture, Univ. of Pittsburgh
- Michael Vorenberg, Associate Professor of History, Brown University
Resources galore! Enjoy some outside links compiled by the BackStory team to create a more complete picture of the narratives surrounding emancipation, and consult a bibliography of sources used in the making of this episode.
Read the listener discussion that helped shape this episode.
See a listing of music used in the making of this episode.
Individual segments from this episode.