The original Emancipation Proclamation, a document that changed the lives of countless African-Americans during the Civil War, is on display in Nashville as the fragile historical document makes its only stop in the Southeast on a 150th anniversary tour.
The exhibit opened Tuesday — fittingly on President Abraham Lincoln's birthday — at the Tennessee State Museum and runs through Monday. It's a rare visit outside the nation's capital for the original document Lincoln signed in 1863 declaring "forever free" all slaves held in Confederate states rebelling against the Union.
Because lights are harmful to the papers, the document can only be viewed for 72 hours over the course of the six days. After Feb. 18, a replica of the Emancipation Proclamation will be on display until the exhibit ends Sept. 1.
One-hundred-fifty years ago this week, Confederate and Union soldiers met in one of the deadliest single day battles in history. Dr. Glenn La Fantasie of the WKU Institute for Civil War Studies and WKU military historian Jack Thacker say President Lincoln considered the Battle of Antietam to be a victory and selected the aftermath of the battle as a good time to move ahead with plans to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. However, the WKU historians say the plan to free the slaves was less popular in the north than many people believe.