top of page
Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order issued by Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It proclaimed the freedom of slaves in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion. It also decreed that freed slaves could be enlisted in the Union Army, thereby increasing the Union's available manpower. It was an important step towards abolishing slavery and conferring American citizenship upon ex-slaves, although the Proclamation did not actually outlaw slavery or free the slaves in the Union states that still permitted it. The Proclamation broadened the goals of the Union war effort; it made the eradication of slavery into an explicit Union goal, in addition to the reuniting of the country.

The Proclamation also prevented European forces from intervening in the war on behalf of the Confederacy. Because the Emancipation Proclamation made the abolition of slavery into a Union goal, it linked support for the Confederacy to support for slavery. As Lincoln hoped, the Proclamation swung foreign popular opinion in favor of the Union by gaining the support of European countries that had already outlawed slaver. It effectively ended the Confederacy's hopes of gaining official recognition from European heads of state.

This lesson demonstrates the importance of the immediate effects that the Emancipation Proclamation had on four major American groups: the Confederate states, the Union states, the Union Army, and black Americans.



Civil War



Big Ideas

US History

Essential Questions

How has social disagreement and collaboration been beneficial to American society?

What document or artifact best summarizes the United States and why?


  • Textual evidence, material artifacts, the built environment, and historic sites are central to understanding United States history.

  • Conflict and cooperation among social groups, organizations, and nation-states are critical to comprehending society in the United States. Domestic instability, ethnic and racial relations, labor relations, immigration, and wars and revolutions are examples of social disagreement and collaboration.


  • Analyze a primary source for accuracy and bias and connect it to a time and place in United States history.

  • Summarize how conflict and compromise in United States history impact contemporary society.

Background Material for Teacher

End of Unit Assessment

Students will perform an oral presentation of their assigned group's perspective to the rest of the class. Students will then use the historical arguments of all four groups to write a 1-2 page response, comparing and contrasting the effect that the Emancipation Proclamation had on each group.


Plans in this Unit

The Immediate Effects of the Emancipation Proclamation

Grade Level

High School

Standards/Eligible Content

8.3.9.A-B, D

PA Core Standards

CC.8.5.11-12.E.   CC.8.6.11-12.A

About the Author

This lesson was created by Nicholas Gagliano. Updated for SAS by Kaitlyn Pettengill, Education Intern, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.


Unit Plan

The Pennsylvania Abolition Society and the Free Black Community

Blog Post

Different Perspectives on the Emancipation Proclamation

Attention Teachers!

Let us know how you used this plan and be featured on our site! Submit your story here.

bottom of page