Robert Kennedy's Copy of Emancipation Proclamation To Be Sold

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A copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln and owned by Robert Kennedy will be auctioned in New York. 

Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 at the height of the Civil War. With the stroke of his pen, Lincoln freed the slaves in the southern states that had seceded from the Union. 

One hundred years later, in the middle of the civil rights era, Robert Kennedy bought a signed copy. As the nation's Attorney General, he led the charge to enforce recently passed laws that protected black Americans rights as citizens.

The copy Kennedy purchased is one of 48 signed by Lincoln and sold to raise money for the medical care of union veterans. The original document, handwritten by Lincoln, is at the National Archives in Washington.  There are only 19 copies known to still exist;  14 are held in institutional collections. 

“This latest document, the Kennedy Emancipation Proclamation, links the noblest ideals of the 1860's to the 1960's, links Robert Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, Civil Rights and Civil War,” said David Redden, vice chairman of Sotheby’s in a statement. ”It is a talisman of two times.”

Kennedy bought a copy in 1964 for an estimated $9,500. He kept the document in his home in Virginia.  When Kennedy's copy goes on sale in December at  Sotheby's it could sell for as much as $1.5 million.

The document will be on view to the public in Boston, Philadelphia and New York before the sale.