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Lincoln in Rochester

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The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet
The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet (after Francis B. Carpenter)

1866
25 1/2 x 35 1/4 in. (64.8 x 89.5 cm)

Alexander Hay Ritchie
American (Glasgow, 1822 - 1895, New Haven, CT)
Francis Bicknell Carpenter
American (Homer, NY, 1830 - 1900) Original artist

Full Title:The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation Before the Cabinet (after Francis B. Carpenter)
Object Type: Print
Medium and Support: Engraving
Credit Line: Gift of Grant Holcomb in memory of Thomas H. Hawks
Accession Number: 1991.13
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view

By 1862, many people in America and abroad were impatient for President Lincoln to act on the matter of slavery in the Confederate states. Lincoln knew that emancipating the slaves would be a politically controversial decision, yet he also believed that the time was ripe to take a moral stand. On July 22, the President read a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet.

Painter F.B. Carpenter recognized that this historical event was an important subject for a painting. He lived in the White House for six months during 1864 while he worked on the painting. He used authentic details in depicting the room where the draft was read, and used photographs produced by Matthew Brady’s studio as a reference for the figures in the painting. Alexander Ritchie later reproduced Carpenter’s work in the engraving seen on view here.

[Gallery label text, 2004]

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