Thenceforward and Forever Free
150 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.
- David Blight, Professor of American History at Yale University
- Ta-Nehisi Coates, senior editor for The Atlantic
- Christy Coleman, President of the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
- Kirk Savage, Professor of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh
- Michael Vorenberg, Associate Professor of History at 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.