Emancipation Proclamation and 13th Amendment Copies Signed by Abraham Lincoln Sold at Auction

By Denisse Moreno
Denisse Moreno
Denisse Moreno
May 27, 2016 Updated: May 27, 2016

Two of the most important anti-slavery documents in the United States, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, were sold at auction for millions of dollars.

Copies of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared freedom to “all persons held as slaves,” and the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, were sold by Sotheby’s on May 25, the auction house announced.

The limited edition print of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is the only version in full text signed by President Lincoln, was sold to a telephone bidder for $2,170,000. The document was also signed by then Secretary of State William H. Seward and his secretary, John G. Nicolay.

The Emancipation Proclamation declared four million slaves free and also changed the objective of the Civil War from preserving the Union to getting rid of slavery. It was signed on January 1, 1863, the third year of the Civil War.

The document sold at auction is one of 27 in existence, 19 of which are currently in institutions.

The Thirteenth Amendment was sold by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History for $2,410,000. Sotheby’s said the “extremely rare manuscript” is one of three senate copies known to exist.

A document signed by founding father Thomas Jefferson, who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and was also the third American president, was sold for $274,000, Sotheby’s said on Twitter. 

The “Two Centuries of American History” auction totaled $6.2 million, Sotheby’s said.

Denisse Moreno
Denisse Moreno