In honor of President Lincoln’s January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, and Gerrit Smith’s connection to the copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in the New York State Library, Retired Navy Commander Owen Corpin will provide a program and prepare the watch fire for the Watch Night commemoration at 4 pm Sunday, December 31, 2016.
The program will begin at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro, and will move to the watch fire site on the Peterboro Green. Owen Corpin, a descendant of 19th Century freedom seekers who came to Peterboro, will describe the long wait through the night of December 31, 1862. Corpin organized the first Peterboro Watch Night for the Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The First Steps to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation brochures from the New York State Museum will be distributed by the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum at Watch Night in Peterboro at 4 pm Sunday, December 31, 2016. The brochure contains a copy of the four pages of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that Lincoln donated in 1864 to the US. Sanitary Commission to raffle in order to raise money for the Union troops. Gerrit Smith won the raffle after buying 1,000 tickets at one dollar for each. Smith then sold the document to the New York State Legislature and donated those funds to the Sanitary Commission. The legislature placed the treasured document in the care of the New York State Library where it resides in a vault today
During the summer of 2016 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro was one of fifty sites in the nation to hold an exhibit Changing America from the Smithsonian, in collaboration with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which showed the relationship between Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and Martin Luther King Jr’s March on Washington one hundred years later.
A facsimile of that 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 during Watch Night. The First Steps to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation brochures from the New York State Museum will be distributed.
The public is encouraged to join in this free observance of the 1862 Watch Night. The Deli on the Green will be open until 7 pm.
For more information, contact Owen Corpin at (315) 750-6561 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Owen Corpin, provided.