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New Year's events in Springfield to mark 150th anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation

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[December 15, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Abraham Lincoln Association will host two events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: a watch night service re-creating the anticipation as emancipation neared, and a news conference and signing of the proclamation by a Lincoln presenter.

The service will be at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at Springfield's Westminster Presbyterian Church. The signing of the proclamation and the news conference follows on Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site. A Frederick Douglass portrayer and others will join "President Lincoln" for comments.

Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Old State Capitol State Historic Site are co-sponsoring these events with the Abraham Lincoln Association.

On Dec. 31, 1862 -- 150 years ago -- American slaves, freemen, abolitionists and common folk sat in churches, meeting houses and fields all over the nation, watching and waiting for the first day of freedom to roll in. Freedom was to occur the next day, when President Lincoln would issue a proclamation emancipating, or freeing, the slaves in states or parts of states in rebellion against the union. It was a very emotional time.

As people watched and waited, they sang songs and testified to the glory and the goodness of the Lord. They gave thanks to President Lincoln, whom many called Father Abraham, and to famous abolitionists like Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison who relentlessly urged Lincoln to emancipate the slaves. They also gave thanks for the sacrifices of slaves themselves who had risked all in a desperate push to crack open the door to freedom and the death of slavery.

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The Dec. 31-Jan. 1 events will re-create the excitement and joy of 150 years ago. The words and songs of the participants will come to life.

In addition to the primary sponsors, the following groups also are contributed to the program: the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and the Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum.

The Abraham Lincoln Association exists to observe each anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln; to preserve and make more readily accessible the landmarks associated with his life; and to actively encourage, promote and aid the collection and dissemination of authentic information regarding all phases of his life and career.

[Text from Abraham Lincoln Association news release received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]

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