President Abraham Lincoln’s Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862
President Lincoln believed that permanent abolition of slavery was essential to the survival of the nation. In this address, he likened the war to a “fiery trial,” and summoned the Union to the great task of abolishing slavery, declaring that “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free…”
Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives and Records Administration
The president is obliged by the Constitution to report to Congress on the state of the Union. In his 1862 message, President Lincoln aimed to rouse and re-inspire Congress after the terrible battle at Antietam in Maryland, the bloodiest conflict of the Civil War. He urged congress to ensure emancipation through a constitutional amendment. In the tradition of the time, this annual message was not read aloud by Lincoln but rather to the Senate by its Secretary and to the House by its Clerk.