“The President’s Emancipation March”
On September 22, 1862, just days after the tenuous victory in the Battle of Antietam, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which vowed to emancipate enslaved people in the rebelling states and allow African Americans to join the United States military.
Inspired by the momentous decision, composer and music teacher George E. Fawcett of Muscatine, Iowa wrote “The President’s Emancipation March,” which he dedicated to “Abraham Lincoln, a foe to tyrants and my country’s friend.” Published in late 1862, Fawcett sent a copy of the music to President Lincoln following the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
Just three weeks later, on January 26, Lincoln recognized Fawcett’s gift in a letter, writing:
My Dear Sir,
Allow me to thank you cordially for your thoughtful courtesy in sending me a copy of your “Emancipation March.”
Your Obt Serv
Both the letter and sheet music are now part of the Shrine’s collections.
The acquisition of this manuscript was made possible by generous donors to the 2020 Watchorn Lincoln Dinner Sponsorship Fund.
Listen to George E. Fawcett’s “The President’s Emancipation March” as performed by University of Redlands School of Music faculty member Dr. Lara Urrutia: