It was Jan. 1, 1863, and Abraham Lincoln was supposed to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. Morning and midday passed, and he still hadn’t signed it. The Rev. Robert M. Franklin, Wednesday’s Interfaith Lecturer, said that slaves and abolitionists across the country began to worry that Lincoln had backed out.
Lincoln had a full schedule that day. He made it to his office to sign the document only after attending a number of New Year’s Day receptions, and then he had to wait for the Proclamation to be rewritten because of a typographical error. But then there was another delay: Lincoln needed time to massage his right arm before he could write a proper signature; he claimed his arm was nearly paralyzed from shaking hands since 9 a.m. that morning.