|View of Davis Library Grounds around 11:10 a.m. Friday 9.20.13|
President Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation has been celebrated and observed locally since 1863. The Gallia County Emancipation Day Celebration is reported to be the longest continuous commemoration of the event in the United States.
The celebration is traditionally held each year on the third weekend in September to coincide with the initial date of the presidential mandate that was authorized in 1862. The local celebration offers a variety of family activities including the performance of several re-enactments to help bring history and understanding of the American Civil War era to life.
On September 22, 1862, shortly after the Battle at Antietam, Lincoln’s preliminary proclamation was issued as an ultimatum to Confederate states:
". . . on the first day of January . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."
Consequently, the official Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, and resulted in a significant shift in focus of the war. In a country founded on the principles of equality and freedom, the war became a struggle to abolish slavery. After the war, slavery was officially outlawed with adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in December of 1865.
In an effort to preserve local African-American heritage and culture, Ohio River Tales, an oral history project featured on the Davis Library Home Page, will be participating in Gallia County’s Emancipation Celebration by collect stories and memories of the Lambert Lands and its descendants, a freed-slave settlement located near Bidwell, Ohio. Stories describing the impact of the American Civil Rights movement on small rural communities in the Ohio Appalachian region will also be saved.
To help promote the event, which actually begins at 6 p.m. tonight Friday, September 20th with a Homecoming Reception and Concert taking place at the Ariel-Dater Hall in Gallipolis, Ohio, Davis Library put up a special book display featuring items from its collections relevant to the subject.
Another Viewpoint… Interior View of Davis Library: 150th Anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation Celebration Book Display
Many of the library materials showcased were purchased as part of Ohio Humanities Council (OHC) Summer Teacher Institute program held on campus a few years back. This Summer Teacher Institute explored the history and activities of the Underground Railroad along the Ohio River.
Please consider taking time this weekend to come learn more on our area’s local history. Then, if you want to research the topic further, we would be happy to assist you—just “Ask Us!”