Draft of Emancipation Proclamation in Rochester
It's been 150 years since the start of the Civil War and the freeing of thousands of slaves by President Abraham Lincoln. In celebration of the anniversary, a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation is traveling across the state.
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It's a piece of our history you don't get to see every day.
"For most of us this is probably going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this document," said Jeffrey Cannell of the state's Education Department.
A draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, written by Abraham Lincoln and now owned by the New York State Library, is on display this weekend at the Rochester Museum and Science Center.
"We have it an a temperature and humidity controlled environment because it has to last forever," said Cannell. "It's exciting because you get to see this piece of paper that Lincoln touched. But the important part is that this is one step towards freedom."
That's exactly why many Rochester residents, like Spencer Ash and his nine-year-old sister Sarah, came out to see it.
"It's particularly important that I bring my little sister out here, so she's connected to this history. I mean, we stand on the shoulder of giants in terms of sacrifice and struggle and where we are today. That link is very important," said Ash.
"It means a lot," said Sarah Ash. "It means showing what they did, how they did it. How much they worked to do it."
The document is usually kept in a vault in Albany, but right now it's on the biggest tour it's been on in 50 years as it visits eight cities across New York.
The First Step to Freedom exhibit also features the manuscript of a speech written and delivered by Doctor Martin Luther King Junior.
The entire display gives visitors a little insight into both men and how our society has changed.
"When you look at Abraham Lincoln's handwriting, and realize that he thought through every word he said, and he wrote it by hand," said Rochester Museum and Science Center President Kate Bennett. "The thoughtful process that went on in his head. You can actually see that."
"It begs the question, 'how far have we come?' And questions about the government's role in social justice. I mean there's all kinds of keeping the conversation going aspect that we're proud of too," said Cannell.
Admission is free and the exhibit is on display until 8 o'clock Sunday evening.