Through the night of December 31, 1862, people of the North and South waited through the night to see if President Abraham Lincoln would issue the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the states of rebellion.
On Wednesday, December 31, 2014, Retired Navy Commander Owen Corpin, a member of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and a descendant of 19th Century freedom seekers who came to Peterboro, will prepare the watch fire and provide the program for the Watch Night commemoration.
Lincoln had shared his first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation with his Cabinet as early as September 22, 1862. A facsimile of Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation gifted to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum by the New York State Museum will be on display at the Smithfield Community Center.
Watch Night on New Year’s Eve 2014 ushers in the Sesquicentennial Year of the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery in the United States, and the assassination of President Lincoln.
2015 heritage events in Peterboro will include a processional honoring veterans of the Civil War, programs about Appomattox, and Lincoln’s death at the 23rd Annual Civil War Weekend June 13 and 14.
In October 2015, the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will be hosting “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle”. The film and discussion series is supported by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and addresses the continuation of the struggle for freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum is planning a special public weekend October 23-24 to feature Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator.
The watch night program will begin at 4 pm at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro, NY and will move to the watch fire site on the Peterboro Green. The public is encouraged to join in this free observance of the Emancipation Proclamation, but are reminded to dress warmly and bring a flashlight.
For more information contact Owen Corpin at (315) 750-6561 or email@example.com.
Illustration: William Tolman Carlton’s depiction of a watch meeting on December 31, 1862 “Waiting For The Hour”, which is on display at the White House.