On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, extending freedom to those enslaved within states rebelling against the Union. Soon thereafter, nearly 200,000 African Americans enlisted in the fight to free millions from slavery.
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 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;…” Abraham Lincoln
Where was Pelagie on this day in history? She was at home in the Amoureux House with her family, most likely enjoying this momentous day. As a “free woman of color” Pelagie had certain legal rights, but she was always at risk of being kidnapped back into slavery.
The Emancipation Proclamation hadn’t freed those still enslaved in Missouri, but freedom for all was on its way.