One of the most important documents in African American history will soon be available for you to actually see with your own eyes. Signed on September 22, 1862 to become effective on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared (among other things) the following: “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; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”
The genuine Emancipation Proclamation will be on view in conjunction with the Discovering the Civil War exhibition from Washington D.C.’s National Archives for 72 hours spread over seven days: Tuesday, Feb. 12 through Monday, Feb. 18, after which a facsimile will be on exhibit.
Hours for viewing the original Emancipation Proclamation are Feb. 12, Feb. 13, Feb. 14, and Feb. 15, from 9 am to 7 pm; and on Feb. 16, Feb 17, and Feb. 18, from 10 am to 8 pm. The museum will be open early during the week to allow many school groups to tour the exhibit and then it will close later at night on all seven days. The museum will be open Feb. 18, a state holiday, ironically and appropriately, President’s Day.
Visitors can either walk in and wait, or pay a dollar for a timed reservation in advance. Visitors at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan stood in line for up to seven hours, so officials designed a system of timed reservations in advance. “This way, visitors from Memphis, Chattanooga, or Knoxville can make a reservation before driving all the way to Nashville,” Lois Riggins-Ezzell, museum executive director said.
Reservations can be made on the hour, quarter hour, and half past the hour, with the last 15 minutes of each hour given to walk-ins. Museum officials estimate that 300 people will be able to see the document each hour. Reservations through TPAC Ticketing at the museum windows; going online to www.tpac.org; or by calling a local Nashville number (not toll-free) 615-782-4040. There will be a handling charge of $1 each reservation, but there is no admission charge to see the document.
Walk-ins will be given a walk-in timed pass when they enter the museum. This way, visitors can walk through the museum until it is time to get in line. Additionally, this allows the museum to know when it is at capacity for walk-ins.
The exhibit, continuing through September 1, 2013, includes the original copy of the 13th Amendment (abolishing slavery), along with South Carolina’s 1860 declaration of secession.