Whereas on January 1, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to declare the freedom of nearly four million enslaved Americans living within the Confederacy during the Civil War; and
Whereas by the year 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation officially took effect, the institution of slavery in the United States had endured continuously from its beginnings during the earliest years of the original colonial settlements that preceded the establishment of this republic and the Constitution upon which it is founded; and
Whereas the institution of slavery itself was neither completely nor permanently abolished by the Emancipation Proclamation but instead, the enslaved Americans living in Confederate territory were legally defined as being a part of the contraband property and assets used in support of the rebellion against the United States and were thus seized accordingly by the wartime powers of the President under the provisions of the Emancipation Proclamation which ultimately declared that "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."
Whereas the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not affect the status of those enslaved Americans currently living within Union territory in the states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware and in several other areas within the Confederacy which were under Union control, including the state of Tennessee and some parts of the states of Virginia and Louisiana; and
Whereas the status of those Americans would therefore remain immediately unaffected by the defeat
of the Confederacy on April 9, 1865 while those who had been enslaved within Confederate territory would eventually become liberated by the advancing and occupying military forces of the Union; and
Whereas the proposed Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution would eventually be submitted to Congress where it received passage on January 31, 1865 as the most essential measure to allow for the permanent dismantling of the institution of slavery in all parts and territories of the United States; and
Whereas on December 18, 1865 William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United States issued the official proclamation which would certify and declare the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution to be in effect on the twelfth day following its ratification by the state of Georgia on December 6 that completed the fulfillment of all the requirements for its formal and permanent adoption to the Constitution of the United States; and
Whereas on December 18, 1865 the formal adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution forever outlawed slavery in the United States and marked the permanent end to more than two centuries of this institutionalized practice of human bondage in America by affirming that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Whereas the lives of four million Americans were forever transformed by their newly attained status as free persons living in the United States and this same status would apply to all of their descendants throughout future generations onward and without end; and
Whereas the complete and final abolition of slavery in the United States would ultimately make possible the establishment of birthright citizenship, due process, universal voting rights and many other freedoms that are now guaranteed to all Americans by the laws of this nation; and
Whereas in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of this action by the United States to amend the Constitution as the supreme law of the land for the purpose of upholding the fundamental principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that are enshrined in the immortal words of its preamble;
BE IT RESOLVED, the Select Board of the Town of Amherst, Massachusetts do hereby proclaim December 18, 2015 as National Freedom Day in Amherst, to be celebrated in a public ceremony at Town Hall on the same day.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, We have set our hands and imprinted the seal of the Town of Amherst on this 7th day of December, in the year 2015.