It's New Year's Day, of course, but it's much more than that: it's also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On January 1, 1863, President Lincoln issued an executive order proclaiming the freedom of all slaves held in those states in rebellion against the Federal government.
It was belated (abolitionists had been calling for this since before the war) and limited (the border slave states, which hadn't seceded, were exempt) and opportunistic (with a strategic aim of weakening the south). But it was also, as the Vice President might say, a big fucking deal. "A grand step in civilization", as William H. Brewer put it at the time. One of our nation's finest moments--a promise that took far too long to redeem, but a promise that in itself was a huge step toward redemption for this terribly flawed republic.
And whatever the politics of the moment, it's worth stopping briefly to commemorate that grand step forward.
(Carte de visite, ca. 1863; photo courtesy of Southern Methodist University, Central University Libraries, DeGolyer Library.)