Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library: 
A History Changing Proclamation Ratified in Missouri at the Mercantile Library at the Height of the Civil War
The Emancipation Proclamation was formally ratified at the St. Louis Mercantile Library in the days when our building served the loyal legislature of the state, one of the grand old institution’s proudest moments and interactions with national history.
This early decorative printing of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, came to the Mercantile Library from the descendants of one of the President’s staunch supporters in Ohio, a state like Illinois, Maine or Michigan which was a bulwark in providing regiments to the great battles of the Civil War. It is a beautiful document, filled with flourishes and symbolism to help celebrate the great Juneteenth Anniversary this week. Lincoln was no stranger to the St. Louis Mercantile Library or its Unionist core leadership, led by his friend and admirer, James Yeatman, who established the Western Sanitary Fair in support of injured soldiers and worked tirelessly, like Lincoln, to build a free society in a great, unified nation cleansed of the evils of slavery. It is said that one of the last leaders, visiting from the West, to speak to Lincoln was James Yeatman, who had come with ideas at Eastertime, 1865 to the White House, bursting with plans regarding reunification of the states. Lincoln received Yeatman hospitably, yet asked if he would return the next day because he was preparing that fateful April 14 evening to go to Ford’s Theater’s production of “Our American Cousin”…
This great engraving of Lincoln first reading the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in 1862, after Francis B. Carpenter’s painting, previous to the Union victory at Antietam signaled a turning point in mindset and strategy in Washington for the subsequent course of the Civil War. After the beginning of 1863, every step of the Union armies advanced the cause of freedom. St. Louis Mercantile Library Collection.
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