Abraham Lincoln is famous for getting to the point. His Gettysburg Address was just 274 words long.

Next Tuesday marks the 150th anniversary of a somewhat longer, but equally famous Lincoln message: the Emancipation Proclamation. It took effect on January 1, 1863.

What exactly did the Emancipation Proclamation say? The full transcript from the National Archives is below. It’s fascinating reading. Just 719 words from beginning to end.

It’s important to note that Lincoln issued a limited proclamation. It did not free slaves everywhere in the United States, just Confederate states during the Civil War. Lincoln called it a “necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.”

You can see a remarkable representation of the president’s concern about the legality and durability of his proclamation in the critically-acclaimed feature film, Lincoln. It was the 13th Amendment, passed two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, that outlawed slavery forever.

The 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation kicks off National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the U.S. Outlawing slavery did not end it. There are 27 million slaves in the world today, many thousands inside the United States. The anti-slavery movement is making progress. And with your help, we will finish what Lincoln started.

By the President of the United States of America:

A Proclamation.

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 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.

“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”

Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Editor’s note: The historic anti-slavery concert last weekend in Myanmar, also known as Burma, was made possible by a coalition of organizations, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We invited USAID to reflect on what the concert meant for the modern abolition movement. Chris Milligan is USAID’s Mission Director in Burma.

MTV Exit's anti-slavery concert in Myanmar attracted more than 50,000 people | Photo: MTV Exit / U.S. State Dept.

What a year of historic firsts.  In April, Secretary Clinton re-established USAID’s mission in Burma, our first in 24 years.  In November, President Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. President to visit the country, and he and Secretary Hillary Clinton officially dedicated USAID’s mission.  And this past Sunday, in Burma’s first city of Rangoon, the first major international live-event was held in over half a century.

The event was Live in Myanmar, MTV EXIT’s 31st concert to counter trafficking in persons.  Held in Rangoon’s People’s Square, at the base of the country’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda, over 50,000 people gathered to hear multi Grammy Award-winning singer songwriter Jason Mraz perform.  He was joined by top artists from Burma and Thailand, including Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein and R Zarni, Chan Chan, Sai Sai, Lynn Lynn, Phyo Gyi and Chit Htu Wai, and Slot Machine.  The commitment and work by these local and regional artists was particularly moving.  All performed for enthusiastic fans, and all came with a common purpose: to raise awareness about human trafficking.

The United Nations estimates that at any one point there are 20 million victims of human trafficking worldwide, more than half of these victims are in the Asia Pacific region.  As President Obama said, “The fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time.”  And we know that raising awareness is key to that fight.  Mixing live music and critical messages, the concert organizers and participants shared in-country contact numbers for counter-trafficking police and NGOs, excerpts from two MTV EXIT documentary videos developed in Burma, and personal stories of individual Burmese who were trafficked in Southeast Asia.

U.S. Ambassador to Burma Derek Mitchell and U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Counter Trafficking Luis CdeBaca both spoke resolutely to the crowd about the U.S. Government’s commitment to combat trafficking in persons globally, and the need for youth to be alert and be educated about trafficking.  USAID has been a dedicated supporter of the MTV EXIT campaign for six years, leveraging the power of music and entertainment as invaluable tools to educate young people about human trafficking.

Most exciting was the Government of Burma’s support and involvement in this effort from start to finish.  Despite the staggering size of crowd, MTV EXIT’s largest to date, the government ensured a safe event without ever losing the celebratory atmosphere of the concert or the seriousness of the issue.  Government representatives spoke passionately and urgently to their youth about personal protection and community awareness, and signed a pledge to work towards the end of human slavery in this generation.  Their determination and commitment gave me hope.

USAID's Chris Milligan

I know that ending human trafficking can feel daunting or at times, even impossible, but on Sunday night, looking out at the crowd, I was inspired that it is within reach.  We know traffickers use technology, like cell phones, and social networking sites to ensnare victims and, yet, there we were, using MTV’s global platform, which reaches 600 million people with lifesaving messages about awareness, protection and support.  As USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah remarked, “As we’ve seen, knowledge can lead to freedom, giving us all the power to end modern slavery.”

Learn more about USAID’s Counter-Trafficking in Persons Policy and Challenge Slavery, a Counter-Trafficking in Persons Campus Challenge that calls on university students globally to develop creative technology solutions to prevent trafficking, enable victims to escape from traffickers, and help survivors recover. 

FTS Holiday e-card

When you donate to Free the Slaves to honor a friend, colleague or family member, you can send them a "TRIUMPH" e-Card to let them know that the gift is spreading freedom.

There’s a word that you don’t often hear at this time of year. But it’s a word that embodies how your concern for others is changing lives around the world. That word is TRIUMPH.

When families in slavery break free and step into lives of fulfillment, it’s a TRIUMPH over the forces of bondage.

When women in slavery regain control of their destiny and return to lives of dignity, it’s a TRIUMPH over oppression.

And when children in slavery are freed, and they begin to study and play and smile once again, it’s a TRIUMPH for all of humanity.

Your contributions to Free the Slaves help make these triumphs possible. We hope you’ll continue your support with a holiday or year-end donation, in your name or in honor of a friend, colleague or relative. Click TRIUMPH to contribute.

Free the Slaves works with frontline activists in 600 hot spot communities where modern slavery continues to thrive. We liberate slaves, ensure they remain free, and change the social, economic and political dynamics that allow slavery to persist. We have completely wiped out slavery in many villages. Click TRIUMPH to help us spread freedom to others.

We couldn’t do it without you. You help empower people in slavery to restore purpose and stability to their families and communities. In freedom, happiness becomes possible.

Thank you for your ongoing support. Together, we will TRIUMPH over slavery.

Jason & Kevin backstage in Myanmar

Jason & Kevin backstage in Myanmar

If you’ve ever wondered how far FTS co-founder Kevin Bales will go to end slavery, Sunday’s anti-trafficking concert in Myanmar will tell you.

He’ll give the shirt off his back to spread the word that SLAVERY SUCKS.

That’s literally what Kevin did for Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jason Mraz, who was ready to perform a first-of-its-kind anti-slavery concern in Myanmar at the Schwedagon Pagoda on Sunday.

In Kevin’s estimation, Jason lacked the proper wardrobe.

Jason describes the experience this week in his online journal:

Moments before taking the stage I ran into Kevin Bales, an economist and hero of mine, whose TED talk introduced modern-day slavery to the social network. I consider Kevin one of the leaders of the ongoing anti-slavery and sustainable-freedom movement and it was seeing him backstage, a long way from California, that I began to experience the important significance of the event. This is a global crisis, and our concert was continuing to bring it into light.

Kevin was wearing a black “slavery sucks” t-shirt and he insisted I wear it during my set. It was already damp and odorous with his sweat from the day’s scorching heat, but I didn’t flinch when he gave it to me. I was honored. He literally took the shirt off his back for me.

Jason performed in SLAVERY SUCKS attire. And the concert was a terrific success. MTV covered it online, and plans to broadcast it next year.

For Jason, it was a profound experience. He writes:

Here were 50 thousand attentive people, observing, raising their hands in the air, shouting freedom! They did everything I invited them to do; dance, play and participate…Still, I never turned my attention away from the real issue. I was there as a messenger, helping to spread peace, prevention tools, and protection from the horrors of human trafficking…Anyone can rise to fame and fill an arena. Anyone can go on tour and impress audiences with their unique sound, catchy lyrics or beautiful voice. It happens every season on the latest re-invent of Star Search. But very few get the opportunity to be a first international artist to sing with tens of thousands in a movement to bring an end to human trafficking. I got to do that here in Myanmar. And it was awesome.

You can read more about Jason’s inner journey in Myanmar in his online journal.

Slavery in this Week’s News

We see slavery and trafficking stories throughout the world each week. It’s great news that journalists and bloggers are exposing the problem of slavery, and examining solutions to it. Awareness creates momentum for change. Here are 10 top stories that caught our eye:

1. Forbes. “Sweatshop: Exploiting Child Labor On The iPad.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnyegriffiths/2012/12/11/sweatshop-littleloud-ipad/

2. The Times of India. “Experts recommend ways to check child labour in country.” http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-12-11/allahabad/35748980_1_child-labour-child-rights-rajiv-gandhi-chair

3. The Examiner. “Senator Coons urges passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.” http://www.examiner.com/article/senator-coons-urges-passage-of-the-trafficking-victims-protect-act

4. Trust Law. “Hundreds of thousands at risk of slavery in USA – former victim.” http://www.trust.org/trustlaw/news/hundreds-of-thousands-at-risk-of-slavery-in-usa-former-victim/

5. UNODC. “Webinar panellists call for partnerships in efforts to combat trafficking globally.” http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/2012/webinar-panellists-call-for-partnerships-in-efforts-to-combat-trafficking-globally.html

6. BBC News. “Argentina sees protests after Marita Veron verdict.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-20705751

7. All Africa. “Congo-Kinshasa: DRC Govt, M23 in Closed-Door Talks.” http://allafrica.com/stories/201212140101.html

8. Press TV. “About one million people displaced by fighting in E Congo: UN official.” http://www.presstv.com/detail/2012/12/13/277905/914000-people-displaced-in-e-congo/

9. The Seattle Times. “Editorial: Backpage.com settlement doesn’t end sex-trafficking fight.” http://seattletimes.com/html/editorials/2019857384_editbackpagesettlementxml.html

10. The Washington Times. “Workers abused by immune diplomats.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/13/workers-abused-by-immune-diplomats/