As David M. Shribman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, the Emancipation Proclamation vindicated Remond and her British supporters’ call for British alliance with the Union cause.
“We pause now to mark the 150th anniversary of the most important New Year’s Eve in American history.
For it was at that moment — celebrated then as now as the time to ring out the old while ringing in the new — that Abraham Lincoln determined, amid deep political controversy, to go forward with the proclamation that would begin the process of freeing America’s slaves. And it was at that moment that Lincoln decided, amid a war over secession, to permit West Virginia to secede from Virginia, the crown jewel of the Confederacy, and to join the Union.
Never has so much been accomplished affecting so many people amid so much tragedy in so little time.
Never has a president spent a New Year’s Eve remotely like the way Lincoln spent his, brooding until the breath of dawn, pacing the second floor of the White House, walking one way and then another.
Never has so much imagination been applied to constitutional principles by one figure who looms so large in the American imagination. In so doing, he saved the country created by that Constitution.
But that is only the beginning of the significance of Dec. 31, 1862. The real meaning of that day a century and a half ago — a day in which the ferocious Battle of Stones River began in Middle Tennessee — is that Abraham Lincoln made the country worth saving.
Pilloried publicly by his opponents, ridiculed privately by his allies, weary of war, wracked with worry, but possessed of an inner compass that pointed toward justice, Lincoln took two steps that made Union victory all but inevitable.
In the course of one New Year’s Eve, Lincoln fractured the South and convinced Great Britain — whose need for Southern cotton had prompted it to contemplate aid to the Confederacy — that the president who in his first inaugural address spoke of the “better angels of our nature” was placing his country firmly on the side of the angels.”
W.T. Carlton’s painting is variously called “Watch Night — Waiting for the Hour” or ” Watch Meeting — Dec. 31st, 1862.” It was sent to President Lincoln by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in 1864 and also circulated widely as an engraving (below). The painting now hangs in what is called the Lincoln Bedroom, really that president’s study and Cabinet Room, over the desk upon which he signed the Emancipation Proclamation on the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, 1862.
From NotionsCapital blog http://wp.me/p6sb6-c3z