BDC “Emancipation Nation Watch Party” on Constitution Day

Visit the BDC Mon., Sept. 17th to participate in live-feed, national “Emancipation Watch Party” The “Watch Party” is modeled on the watch parties Northern abolitionists held on the eve of the Emancipation Proclamation becoming law on January 1, 1863. As the Civil War began to unfold, the Union had a serious question to answer: What to do about the enslaved people left behind - in Beaufort District and other places of the occupied South? President Abraham Lincoln had quite a problem. Gen. David D. Hunter, an ardent abolitionist and Commander of the Department of the South based on Hilton Head Island, took it upon himself to order that "the persons in these three States (viz., South Carolina, Georgia and Florida)...heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared free" in an order dated 9 May 1862. Lincoln rescinded Hunter's order with a Presidential Proclamation issued ten days later on 19 May 1862. Lincoln spent much of 1862 preparing for the most important decision of his presidency: “What to do about slavery?” Issuance of the presidential Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862 transformed the Federal goal of the Civil War to preserve the Union into a war that would also free the slaves. Historians speaking at the event include: Edward L. Ayers, Eric Foner, Thavolia Glymph, Gary Gallagher and Christy Coleman. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (, and with generous support from HISTORY, the event will take place before a live student audience at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. We'll project the live stream in the 2nd floor lobby at 311 Scott Street just outside the BDC Research Room door for you to join us at 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, Mon., Sept. 17th. No registration is necessary. The event is free.