On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, as President Lincoln declared all slaves on Confederate territory forever free. The declaration represented a shift in the President’s thinking.
On August 22, 1862, the President had said that his “paramount objective in fighting the war was to “save the Union,” and if he “could save the Union, without freeing any slave,” he would do it. The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to slaves in the loyal Border States.
A commentator for the London Times observed that “Where he has no power, Mr. Lincoln will set the Negroes free. Where he retains power he will consider them as slaves.” Slavery in the United States was formally ended with the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, enacted at the end of 1865.