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Reminder: Watch Night/First Day celebrates 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

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[December 29, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Abraham Lincoln Association is hosting two events to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. On Monday at 8 p.m. there will be a watch night service at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Springfield to celebrate the coming of emancipation. On Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Old State Capitol State Historic Site, a portrayer of President Abraham Lincoln will sign the Emancipation Proclamation and have a public news conference to answer questions. A Frederick Douglass portrayer and others will join the president 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, on Jan. 1, 1863, when President Lincoln was to issue a proclamation emancipating, or freeing, the slaves in states or parts of states that were in rebellion against the Union. It was a very emotional time.

As they watched and waited, people 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 famous abolitionists like Horace Greeley, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and others who strongly and relentlessly urged Lincoln to emancipate the slaves. They also gave thanks for the sacrifices of slaves themselves who had boldly risked all in a desperate push to crack open the door to freedom and to the death of slavery.

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The Watch Night/First Day events will recreate 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 have contributed to the program: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, and Springfield and Central Illinois African American History Museum.

[Text from file received from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition]

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