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How Boston Received the Emancipation Proclamation


A 1913 description of the 1863 New Year and celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, by Fanny Villard Garrison. Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.



Fanny Garrison Villard (1844-1928) was the daughter of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, an organizer for women’s suffrage, and a pacifist. This brief account tells of her girlhood memories of the 1863 New Year, when Lincoln promulgated the Emancipation Proclamation. She relates attending midnight services in Boston’s African Church, followed the next day by a celebratory concert and then a private memorial gathering for John Brown attended by Wendell Phillips, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Julia Ward Howe and others. She uses these memories to reflect that the promise of that day has not been fulfilled after a half-century and, in keeping with her father’s anti-racist philosophy, concludes “Justice must be meted out to [African Americans] if we would preserve it for ourselves, and every benefit than can be conferred by democracy bestowed upon each and every colored person, North or South, in common with every other inhabitant of this fair land.” (178)

This account originally appeared in The American Review of Reviews 47 (February 1913) 2:177-178.  


- Joe Lockard