The Power of the Pen(cil)

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Last week’s show about the Lincoln Memorial reminded me of the opportunity I had a few years ago to see Lincoln's handwritten draft of the Emancipation Proclamation at the New-York Historical Society.

The document is so fragile that it can be displayed only 10 days out of every year. It seems Lincoln wrote the landmark document in pencil on whatever paper he happened to have around his office. The cross-outs and changes are by Secretary of State William H. Seward.

Emancipation Proclamation p. 2

Here is a work with an undeniably huge impact. Though it didn't actually free any slaves (that couldn't happen until the Civil War ended), it was a critical precursor. It reminds me of the power of words – and that even penciled noodlings can change the course of history.

- Cary Barbor