Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Holidays and Observances for January 1st 2014

New Year's Day

New Year's Day falls on January 1 and marks the start of a new year according to the Gregorian calendar. It marks the end of New Year's Eve celebrations in the United States and gives many Americans a chance to remember the previous year.

The start of New Year's Day, at midnight, is heralded by fireworks, parties and special events, which are often televised. Very few people have to work on the day itself. For many it is a day of recovery from the New Year's Eve celebrations the previous night. In some towns and cities, parades are held and special football games are played. The birth of the first baby in the New Year is often celebrated with gifts to his or her parents and appearances in local newspapers and on local news shows. Many people make New Year's resolutions. These are usually promises to themselves that they will improve something in their own lives. Common New Year's resolutions are to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, to lose weight, exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle.

The Gregorian calendar is widely used in many countries such as the United States. This was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII. The Julian calendar that had been in use until then was slightly inaccurate, causing the vernal equinox to move backwards in the calendar year. The Gregorian calendar was not accepted everywhere and some churches, particularly with origins in Eastern Europe, still use other calendars. According to the Gregorian calendar, the first day of the year is January 1.

A common symbol of New Year's Day is Baby New Year. This is often a white male baby dressed in a diaper, a hat and a sash. The year he represents is printed on his sash. He rarely a newborn baby, as many pictures show him sitting up or even standing alone. According to mythology, Baby New Year grows up and ages in a single year. At the end of the year he is an old man and hands his role over to the next Baby New Year. Other symbols of New Year's Day are spectacular fireworks exploding over landmarks and clocks striking midnight as the year begins.

New Year's Dishonor List Day

New Year's Dishonor List Day was started in 1977 at Lake Superior State University in Marie, Michigan by the university's Public Relations Director W.T. (Bill) Rabe. At that year's holiday party, a list of overused words was created. Knowing that New Year's Day is typically a slow media day, he released the list of words that should be banished from the Queen's English. That inaugural list received much attention and they decided to make it an annual event.

You can find the most recent banished words at the university's website. The 2014 list includes the following...
  • T-BONE

Ellis Island Day

From 1892 to 1954, over twelve million immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. Ellis Island is located in the upper bay just off the New Jersey coast, within the shadow of the Statue of Liberty. Through the years, this gateway to the new world was enlarged from its original 3.3 acres to 27.5 acres mostly by landfill obtained from ship ballast and possibly excess earth from the construction of the New York City subway system.

Before being designated as the site of the first Federal immigration station by President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, Ellis Island had a varied history. The local Indian tribes had called it "Kioshk" or Gull Island. Due to its rich and abundant oyster beds and plentiful and profitable shad runs, it was known as Oyster Island for many generations during the Dutch and English colonial periods. By the time Samuel Ellis became the island's private owner in the 1770's, the island had been called Kioshk, Oyster, Dyre, Bucking and Anderson's Island. In this way, Ellis Island developed from a sandy island that barely rose above the high tide mark, into a hanging site for pirates, a harbor fort, ammunition and ordinance depot named Fort Gibson, and finally into an immigration station.

From 1794 to 1890 (pre-immigration station period), Ellis Island played a mostly uneventful but still important military role in United States history. When the British occupied New York City during the duration of the Revolutionary War, its large and powerful naval fleet was able to sail unimpeded directly into New York Harbor. Therefore, it was deemed critical by the United States Government that a series of coastal fortifications in New York Harbor be constructed just prior to the War of 1812. After much legal haggling over ownership of the island, the Federal government purchased Ellis Island from New York State in 1808. Ellis Island was approved as a site for fortifications and on it was constructed a parapet for three tiers of circular guns, making the island part of the new harbor defense system that included Castle Clinton at the Battery, Castle Williams on Governor's Island, Fort Wood on Bedloe's Island and two earthworks forts at the entrance to New York Harbor at the Verrazano Narrows. The fort at Ellis Island was named Fort Gibson in honor of a brave officer killed during the War of 1812.

Prior to 1890, the individual states (rather than the Federal government) regulated immigration into the United States. Castle Garden in the Battery (originally known as Castle Clinton) served as the New York State immigration station from 1855 to 1890 and approximately eight million immigrants, mostly from Northern and Western Europe, passed through its doors. These early immigrants came from nations such as England, Ireland, Germany and the Scandinavian countries and constituted the first large wave of immigrants that settled and populated the United States. Throughout the 1800's and intensifying in the latter half of the 19th century, ensuing political instability, restrictive religious laws and deteriorating economic conditions in Europe began to fuel the largest mass human migration in the history of the world. It soon became apparent that Castle Garden was ill-equipped and unprepared to handle the growing numbers of immigrants arriving yearly. Unfortunately compounding the problems of the small facility were the corruption and incompetence found to be commonplace at Castle Garden.

The Federal government intervened and constructed a new Federally-operated immigration station on Ellis Island. While the new immigration station on Ellis Island was under construction, the Barge Office at the Battery was used for the processing of immigrants. The new structure on Ellis Island, built of "Georgia pine" opened on January 1, 1892; Annie Moore, a 15 year-old Irish girl, accompanied by her two brothers entered history and a new country as she was the very first immigrant to be processed at Ellis Island on January 2. Over the next 62 years, more than 12 million were to follow through this port of entry.

While there were many reasons to emigrate to America, no reason could be found for what would occur only five years after the Ellis Island Immigration Station opened. During the evening of June 14, 1897, a fire on Ellis Island, burned the immigration station completely to the ground. Although no lives were lost, many years of Federal and State immigration records dating back to 1855 burned along with the pine buildings that failed to protect them. The United States Treasury quickly ordered the immigration facility be replaced under one very important condition. All future structures built on Ellis Island had to be fireproof. On December 17, 1900, the new Main Building was opened and 2,251 immigrants were received that day.

While most immigrants entered the United States through New York Harbor (the most popular destination of steamship companies), others sailed into many ports such as Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Francisco and Savannah, Miami, and New Orleans. The great steamship companies like White Star, Red Star, Cunard and Hamburg-America played a significant role in the history of Ellis Island and immigration in general. First and second class passengers who arrived in New York Harbor were not required to undergo the inspection process at Ellis Island. Instead, these passengers underwent a cursory inspection aboard ship; the theory being that if a person could afford to purchase a first or second class ticket, they were less likely to become a public charge in America due to medical or legal reasons. The Federal government felt that these more affluent passengers would not end up in institutions, hospitals or become a burden to the state. However, first and second class passengers were sent to Ellis Island for further inspection if they were sick or had legal problems.

This scenario was far different for "steerage" or third class passengers. These immigrants traveled in crowded and often unsanitary conditions near the bottom of steamships with few amenities, often spending up to two weeks seasick in their bunks during rough Atlantic Ocean crossings. Upon arrival in New York City, ships would dock at the Hudson or East River piers. First and second class passengers would disembark, pass through Customs at the piers and were free to enter the United States. The steerage and third class passengers were transported from the pier by ferry or barge to Ellis Island where everyone would undergo a medical and legal inspection.

If the immigrant's papers were in order and they were in reasonably good health, the Ellis Island inspection process would last approximately three to five hours. The inspections took place in the Registry Room (or Great Hall), where doctors would briefly scan every immigrant for obvious physical ailments. Doctors at Ellis Island soon became very adept at conducting these "six second physicals." By 1916, it was said that a doctor could identify numerous medical conditions (ranging from anemia to goiters to varicose veins) just by glancing at an immigrant. The ship's manifest log (that had been filled out back at the port of embarkation) contained the immigrant's name and his/her answers to twenty-nine questions. This document was used by the legal inspectors at Ellis Island to cross examine the immigrant during the legal (or primary) inspection. The two agencies responsible for processing immigrants at Ellis Island were the United States Public Health Service and the Bureau of Immigration (later known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service - INS). On March 1, 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Service was re-structured and included into 3 separate bureaus as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. For more information on these three bureaus and their mission, visit their websites at the following:

Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services -
Bureau of Immigrations & Customs Enforcement -
Bureau of Customs & Border Protection -

Despite the island's reputation as an "Island of Tears", the vast majority of immigrants were treated courteously and respectfully, and were free to begin their new lives in America after only a few short hours on Ellis Island. Only two percent of the arriving immigrants were excluded from entry. The two main reasons why an immigrant would be excluded were if a doctor diagnosed that the immigrant had a contagious disease that would endanger the public health or if a legal inspector thought the immigrant was likely to become a public charge or an illegal contract laborer.

During the early 1900's, immigration officials mistakenly thought that the peak wave of immigration had already passed. Actually, immigration was on the rise and in 1907, more people immigrated to the United States than any other year; approximately 1.25 million immigrants were processed at Ellis Island in that one year. Consequently, masons and carpenters were constantly struggling to enlarge and build new facilities to accommodate this greater than anticipated influx of new immigrants. Hospital buildings, dormitories, contagious disease wards and kitchens were all were feverishly constructed between 1900 and 1915.

As the United States entered World War I, immigration to the United States decreased. Numerous suspected enemy aliens throughout the United States were brought to Ellis Island under custody. Between 1918 and 1919, detained suspected enemy aliens were transferred from Ellis Island to other locations in order for the United States Navy with the Army Medical Department to take over the island complex for the duration of the war. During this time, regular inspection of arriving immigrants was conducted on board ship or at the docks. At the end of World War I, a big "Red Scare" spread across America and thousands of suspected alien radicals were interned at Ellis Island. Hundreds were later deported based upon the principal of guilt by association with any organizations advocating revolution against the Federal government. In 1920, Ellis Island reopened as an immigration receiving station and 225,206 immigrants were processed that year.

From the very beginning of the mass migration that spanned the years (roughly) 1880 to 1924, an increasingly vociferous group of politicians and nativists demanded increased restrictions on immigration. Laws and regulations such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Alien Contract Labor Law and the institution of a literacy test barely stemmed this flood tide of new immigrants. Actually, the death knell for Ellis Island, as a major entry point for new immigrants, began to toll in 1921. It reached a crescendo between 1921 with the passage of the Quota Laws and 1924 with the passage of the National Origins Act. These restrictions were based upon a percentage system according to the number of ethnic groups already living in the United States as per the 1890 and 1910 Census. It was an attempt to preserve the ethnic flavor of the "old immigrants", those earlier settlers primarily from Northern and Western Europe. The perception existed that the newly arriving immigrants mostly from southern and eastern Europe were somehow inferior to those who arrived earlier.

After World War I, the United States began to emerge as a potential world power. United States embassies were established in countries all over the world, and prospective immigrants now applied for their visas at American consulates in their countries of origin. The necessary paperwork was completed at the consulate and a medical inspection was also conducted there. After 1924, the only people who were detained at Ellis Island were those who had problems with their paperwork, as well as war refugees and displaced persons.

Ellis Island still remained open for many years and served a multitude of purposes. During World War II, enemy merchant seamen were detained in the baggage and dormitory building. The United States Coast Guard also trained about 60,000 servicemen there. In November of 1954 the last detainee, a Norwegian merchant seaman named Arne Peterssen was released, and Ellis Island officially closed.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson declared Ellis Island part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Ellis Island was opened to the public on a limited basis between 1976 and 1984. Starting in 1984, Ellis Island underwent a major restoration, the largest historic restoration in U.S. history. The $160 million dollar project was funded by donations made to The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. in partnership with the National Park Service. The Main Building was reopened to the public on September 10, 1990 as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Journeys: The Peopling of America(r) Center, 1550 - 1890 a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum which explores arrivals before the Ellis Island Era, opened in 2011. Journeys: The Peopling of America(r) Center, 1550 - 1890 a major expansion of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum which explores arrivals before the Ellis Island Era, opened in 2011. The museum received almost 2 million visitors annually until it closed in October 2012 due to damage from Superstorm Sandy. While the exhibits remained intact, the infrastructure was destroyed by flooding, and the museum is undergoing necessary repairs and upgrades.

Euro Day

Just for once, the e doesn’t stand for electronic. E-day is Euro Day: 1 January 2002, when the twelve countries of the European Union that have signed up to adopt the single currency (Britain not among them) change over to the Euro. Large-scale logistical problems are inevitable: the European Central Bank will have to distribute 16 billion Euro notes and 56 billion Euro coins — enough paper bills, it is claimed, to circle the equator 50 times and enough metal to replicate 35 Eiffel Towers. As there will be a changeover period of a month or two, retailers predict chaos as people pay for things in old currencies and receive change in the new, or try to pay in a mixture of old and new. The impending loss of national currencies is causing agonising problems for people who prefer to keep their money in the mattress rather than in the bank. It is particularly affecting criminal gangs, such as prostitution rings and drug smugglers in eastern Europe, who are having to shift large sums of illicit funds into other currencies, especially the American dollar. It is said that this is one of the main forces tending to distort exchange rates at the moment and keep the dollar high.

First Foot Day

First Foot Day marks the beginning of the New Year and is said to bring luck. Who dares to enter your home first on New Year's Day? Did you know that First Foot Day celebrates a traditional for many families in the US which has to do with who steps first in your house on this day? Yessss in deed! Is it a man or a woman? Well the way the tradition goes in my family .... a man MUST be the first person to cross the threshold into our homes on New Years morning and we must not let a women come inside the house until a man does or it's bad luck.

Yep...... as a child I grew up knowing that while my Mother was cooking the traditional blackeyed peas, hog joule and cornbread..... Daddy was making his early morning rounds to all our Aunts and Uncles, cousins and neighbors house to bring them good luck. All those years we followed the tradition of passing on good luck to our loved ones but we never knew it was called First Footing, First Foot Day or First Day. Hince the saying....." Let's start out the New Year on the right foot." As you continue to read below you will see how others celebrate this Holiday.

From what we found out from our research, First Foot Day or First Footing is an old Scottish tradition. This is how the Scottish did it.

'First Foot' or 'First Footing' comes from the first person to cross the threshold into a home on the first day of the New Year. Years ago, for good luck, the first person to enter your home should of been a dark male. As this dark man knocked on your door he would of brought with him symbolic pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, black buns and some whisky. This is how the Scottish tradition did it and is believed to have come from the Viking days of long ago when it was not so lucky to have a big long haired blonde stranger arrive on your door step with a big axe.

Tradition tell us this
  • .... Good luck is believed to be brought to the house by the First-Foot, and a female First-Foot is regarded with dread. In Lancashire a light-haired man is as unlucky as a woman, and it became a custom for a dark-haired male to be the one and only first-foot.
  • In Worcestershire luck is ensured by stopping the first carol-singer who appears and leading him through the house.
  • In Yorkshire it must always be a male who enters the house first, but his fairness is no objection. 
  • The first-foot usually brings a gift of coal and salt. The coal representing "warmth" for the year ahead and the salt representing "flavour".
  • In Scotland first-footing was always more elaborate than in England, involving a subsequent entertainment.
Greek culture, first-foot has a significant place among Christmas customs. Thus, it is believed that the first person to enter the house on New Year's Eve brings either good luck or bad luck. Many households to this day keep this tradition and specially select who enters first into the house. After the first-foot, also called "podariko" from "podi" which means foot, the lady of the house serves the guests with Christmas treats to ensure that good luck will come in the New Year......

Global Family Day

Global Family Day is celebrated each year on 1st January, but since it is something that evolved almost spontaneously, it is hard to pin down its actual origins.

Traditionally 1st January has always been regarded as a day of new beginnings. New Year Resolutions have customarily been made that generally involve some effort to modify behaviour and lead a better life. Cutting down on the consumption of chocolate or alcohol, giving up smoking or taking more exercise are popular, although not always lasting, intentions.

On a broader note, it has also traditionally come to be a day to consider ways of promoting peace, both within local communities and in the wider world.

In November 1997 the UN General Assembly made a declaration that the first year of the new millennium should see the launch of an International Decade for the Culture of Peace and non-violence for the Children of the World and that the decade should be ushered in by "One Day of Peace".

In November 1999 a formal invitation to participate was sent to all UN member states and the declaration was soon followed by a vote in the US Congress that backed this up by establishing the first day of the year as a special time of peace and sharing.

Although not universally adopted, this first "Day of Peace" was felt to be so significant that in 2001 the United Nations established this Observance as an annual event. The event has now become known as Global Family Day and is recognized by more than two thirds of the world's population.

Initial thoughts about Global Family Day are that it relates simply to celebrating and loving your own family unit. This is naturally most important and is only right and proper. The family unit is one of the most important groupings in existence, providing leadership, guidance and mutual support, but it can take a number of forms.

In all cases there will be a head of the family, traditionally but not necessarily the senior male member, who will provide the leadership. The younger members of the family group will learn from the older ones as they prepare for adulthood.

While the family group in the Western World is generally regarded as a mother, father and one or more children, in other parts of the world family units are often extended to include other relatives in addition to parents and children.

Families always have high expectations for quality care to be given to elderly relatives, who are the senior members of the family group. Traditionally this has been the responsibility of the extended family, but in the developed countries of the so-called modern world this is a "duty" that now is often passed to someone else, usually at considerable expense. Many other cultures continue to regard the care of the elderly as being a family responsibility.

Global Family Day also recognizes that we are all part of the global family that makes up the human race.

Ideally this would be a peaceful and loving human race, but regrettably there are divisions that are caused by a whole series of global effects and crises that are taking place all over the planet. As a result the human race is far from being a loving and united family.

It is often forgotten that Barack Obama, the President of the United States, was also the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, so as such he is naturally a firm believer in world harmony.

He firmly advocates that the peoples of the world should find a way to live together as one human family. The only way to deal with the crises that divide us, he said, is for the world's population to be united and to battle these crises together.

So what can people do?
It is suggested that Global Family Day is a day for sharing. Activities can be fairly modest, but they can be far reaching. Families might come together and share food in small and simple food ceremonies where they can make personal pledges to promote the message of peace throughout the world.

Another way to mark the day is to reach out to people in the community and neighbourhood, especially people who live alone or people with whom you may have lost touch. Modern methods of communication can be used where these are appropriate.

Personal pledges for the future can be exchanged with loved ones and it should be remembered that there is always room to take a look at personal achievements during the past year and to find a little space for some self-congratulation.

There are countless ways in which Global Family Day can be celebrated, but whichever way we choose to spend the day, it gives us the opportunity to think about other members of the Global Family. We may live thousands of miles away from each other and have vastly different customs and lifestyles, but it is only by increasing our understanding of our fellow members of the human race that world peace will ever be assured.

National Bloody Mary Day

January 1st is National Bloody Mary Day. If you were in Times Square at 11:30 AM, you probably witnessed the official Bloody Mary toast.

Few things are better in the morning (as a brunch cocktail or hangover cure) or on a cold day than the spicy tomato flavor of a Bloody Mary. You can make it as spicy or mild as you want, switch out the liquor, or skip it all together. It is a drink that is completely adaptable to suit your personal taste and there are more tomato and related cocktail recipes listed below.

The spice of the Bloody Mary will depend a lot on the hot sauce you choose and how much you use. Tabasco is a favorite, but I encourage you to experiment with different brands, intensities, and flavors. Cholula Chili Garlic is a personal favorite. One thing you must remember with any spicy cocktail is that it is best to start with less and add to fit your taste. There is no turning back once you have too much spice and it can easily ruin an otherwise great drink.

You can also make a pitcher-sized batch by using a Bloody Mary mix like this one and take it to a party or tailgate or simply store it in the refrigerator as a quick Bloody Mary for yourself.

Bloody Marys are often garnished with a celery stalk, but many will either use a pickle spear or both. I like the pickle because it adds another layer of flavor that celery cannot.

National Hangover Day

If you rang in the brand New Year with lots of holiday cheer, chances are pretty good you may be paying the price today! Besides being New Year’s Day, January 1st is also National Hangover Day, also referred to as Bad Hangover Day! Whether you attended a great big holiday bash or small get-together for New Year’s Eve, indulging in too much of the bubbly can result in a horrible hangover the next day.

According to Mayo Clinic, a hangover is defined as “a group of unpleasant signs and symptoms that can develop after drinking too much alcohol.” Symptoms include horrible headaches, nausea, dehydration, sensitivity to sound and light, bloodshot eyes, dizziness, shakiness and the inability to concentrate.

How to Prevent a Hangover
Mayo Clinic suggests eating prior to drinking and drinking one glass of water after each alcohol drink may help. Darker-colored alcoholic beverages, including brandy, tequila, bourbon, dark-colored beer and/or red wine, have a higher volume of congeners, which are more likely to produce a hangover. While lighter-colored drinks like white wine, gin, vodka and lighter-colored beer are less likely to cause a hangover, drinking too much alcohol regardless of color can result in a pretty bad hangover the following day.

How to Get Over a Hangover
While time is the only real cure for a hangover, there are certain things you can do to feel better:
  • Drink water before, during and after you drink alcohol.
  • Once the hangover hits, drink orange or tomato juice.
  • Drink sports drinks or Pedialyte.
  • Eat bland food.
  • Take a shower.
  • Exercise.
  • Vitamin C and/or B may help.
  • For headaches, rub a dab or two of Tiger Balm on the back of your neck and temples and massage.
  • Reflexology helps speed up liver detoxification. Rub the outer edge area of your right foot, about halfway between the middle of the foot and little toe.
  • Strike a pose. If you are a Yoga fan, try the Sweated Twist on for size.
  • Sleep it off.
The best proven cure to avoid a hangover is to not drink at all or drink responsibly! And remember - do not drink and drive!

Public Domain Day

On this day of great celebrations worldwide, we also invite to celebrate the impressive wealth of knowledge, information and beauty that today, like every year on this day, becomes freely available to humankind. Every year on New Year's Day, in fact, due to the expiration of copyright protection terms on works produced by authors who died several decades earlier, thousands of works enter the public domain - that is, their content is no longer owned or controlled by anyone, but it rather becomes a common treasure, available for anyone to freely use for any purpose.

Such works can also become a building block for new creations: people can transform a poem into song lyrics, or make a movie based on a public domain novel (check your local movie theaters to see how often that happens!). Literary works can be published on personal website and/or printed for friends or school distribution. Of course, you can also decide, for instance, to professionally print a beautiful hardcover leather-bound edition of a public domain book and sell it for a profit, while the book content will remain available for anyone to use freely. And the same goes for images, art works and other kinds of creative works entering the public domain under the same term expiration rule.

This Public Domain Day (each year's January 1st) website is an initiative of COMMUNIA, the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain, with the special support of the Open Knowledge Foundation. Our aim is to raise worldwide awareness about the role of the public domain in our societies and to provide resources and information. Please feel free to browse our website and related links and pages - to find greater inspiration and enjoy the creative and entrepreneurial freedom granted to everybody by the public domain.

Z - Day

Z - Day is celebrated annually on January 1 in the United States!

"Z-Day is in honor of those persons whose surnames start with Z because of which they get pushed to the bottom of any list!" Weird, isn't it?" "Anyways, it's the New Year and you gotta do things with lot of Zeal!"

It's a day to celebrate those persons whose surnames start with Z!

The idea is that Everyone with a "Z" name gets to be first in line today instead of last in line. So, if you have a student in your classroom, or an employee that works for you etc. that's last name starts with Z, give them a break today.

Most of our research shows that this day is celebrated by sending fun greeting cards and well... not much more that you can do on this day than that. I mean after all, how many people do you know who's last name starts with Z? Not to many if any at all right?

Emancipation Proclamation

On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signs the final Emancipation Proclamation, which ends slavery in the rebelling states. A preliminary proclamation was issued in September 1862, following the Union victory at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland. The act signaled an important shift in the Union's Civil War aims, expanding the goal of the war from reunification to include the eradication of slavery.

The proclamation freed all slaves in states that were still in rebellion on January 1, 1863. Lincoln used vacated Congressional seats to determine the areas still in rebellion, as some parts of the South had already been recaptured and representatives returned to Congress under Union supervision. As the proclamation freed slaves only in rebellious areas it actually freed no one, since these were areas not yet under Union control. The measure was still one of the most important acts in American history, however, as it meant slavery would end when those areas were recaptured. Most crucially, this measure effectively sabotaged Confederate attempts to secure recognition by foreign governments, especially Great Britain. When reunification was the sole goal of the North, the Confederates could be viewed by foreigners as freedom fighters being held against their will by the Union. But after the Emancipation Proclamation, the Southern cause was now the defense of slavery. The proclamation was a shrewd maneuver by Lincoln to brand the Confederate States as a slave nation and render foreign aid impossible.

The measure was met by a good deal of opposition, as many Northerners were unwilling to fight for the freedom of blacks; however, the proclamation signaled the death knell for slavery and had the effect on British opinion that Lincoln desired. Britain, which was ideologically opposed to slavery, could no longer recognize the Confederacy, and goodwill towards the Union forces swelled in Britain. With this measure, Lincoln effectively isolated the Confederacy and killed the institution that was at the root of sectional differences.

On New Year's Day 1863, the president greeted a large group of diplomats at a White House reception. Shortly after noon, he slipped upstairs to his office and signed the proclamation. "I never felt more certain," he commented, "that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper."