President Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation granted freedom to all enslaved people held in states that had seceded from the Union.  The Proclamation paved the way for the ensuing laws that would expand privileges and rights to people of color and, in particular, those who had been formerly enslaved.  The Proclamation is the stepping stone for the 13th Amendment, Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment.