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National Archives

Touring Emancipation Proclamation will stop in Tennessee

2012 Group Tour Media,
March 23, 2012

NASHVILLE – The 150-year-old original Emancipation Proclamation will be on display at the Tennessee State Museum for just 72 hours as part of a national tour.

It is the only stop in the southeast for the fragile manuscript signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

The document can only be exposed to light for three days while in Tennessee. The document will be displayed at intervals during a six-day period starting Feb. 12, 2013, marking the 150th anniversary of its signing.

The proclamation altered the course of U.S. history and dramatically changed the lives of African-Americans by proclaiming freedom for millions of slaves. The document, which rarely leaves the National Archives in Washington, D.C., is arriving in conjunction with the acclaimed National Archives multimedia exhibit “Discovering the Civil War,” which will also open at the museum on Feb. 12, 2013 – Lincoln’s birthday – and continue through Sept. 2, 2013.

The document linked the preservation of American constitutional government to the end of slavery and has become one of the country’s most treasured documents. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, formally proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in areas still in revolt.

“It is an incredible honor for Tennessee to host the Emancipation Proclamation, a document whose significance to the history of this country, and this region in particular, cannot be overstated,” Haslam said in a prepared release. “This delicate manuscript represents America’s recognition that all are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and we invite people from across the Southeast and the nation to see and celebrate with us the moment our country officially became the land of the free.”

 The “Discovering the Civil Warexhibit, which will continue well beyond the Emancipation Proclamation’s six-day viewing, is the culmination of 150 years of analysis, interpretation, and opinion on the Civil War through lesser-known stories and perspectives and previously unseen documents.

The multi-media exhibit is an exploration of original letters, diaries, photos, maps, petitions, receipts, patents, amendments and proclamations to portray the Civil War. The exhibit features 12 themed sections that combine original treasures enhanced by interactive features and social media tools, allowing visitors to see the past through the lens of the future.

For more information, contact The Tennessee State Museum at (615) 741-2692, 800-407-4324 or

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