You'll have just six days to see one of the most important documents in American history when the Emancipation Proclamation goes on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Signed by President Abraham Lincoln, the document stated that "all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be free." Don't be fooled by the simple language it used. The Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, clearly linked the continuation of a constitutional American government to the issue of slavery. Its challenge to the rebels? You'll have to destroy one in order to preserve the other.
The Proclamation did not immediately end slavery (it was more than two years before Texans got the official news), but it did set forth an immense -- and ultimately unbeatable -- challenge to the rebels and their European supporters.
The Proclamation is on display as part of the "Discovering the Civil War" exhibit at the museum. Don't miss the rest of the exhibit, including letters from soldiers, uniforms, photos, guns and the USS Westfield, which played a role in the battle over the control of the port of Galveston during the conflict.
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See the Emancipation Proclamation 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday to Monday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. 5555 Hermann Park Drive. For information, visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629. $18 to $25.