Carte de Visite after William Carlton’s 1863 painting. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs.
As Frederick Douglass wrote, “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky, which should rend the fetters of four million of slaves; we were watching, as it were, by the dim light of stars, for the dawn of a new day; we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”
“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.” – From The Emancipation Proclamation
The painting hangs in what is now the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House, but was then his office where President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The original painting was given as a gift from William Lloyd Garrison to President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and was removed from the White House after President Lincoln’s assassination.
A White House curator found another version at a New York antique shop in 1975. It was presented as a gift to the White House on the 200th anniversary of America’s founding in 1976.