Emancipation Watch Night
EMANCIPATION WATCH NIGHT
was held at 4 p.m.
on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Smithfield Community Center
5255 Pleasant Valley Road
Peterboro NY 13134
Emancipation Watch Night Commemoration in Peterboro
On the eve of the Sesquicentennial of the Thirteenth Amendment, Owen Corpin will, once again, prepare the watch fire and provide the program for the Watch Night commemoration at 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, 2014. The program will begin at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134 and will move to the watch fire site on the Peterboro Green. Retired Navy Commander Owen Corpin, a member of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum and a descendant of 19th Century freedom seekers who came to Peterboro, organized the Watch Night commemoration on the 150th anniversary of the first Watch Night in 1862.
Through the night of December 31, 1862, people of the North and South waited through the night to see if President Abraham Lincoln would issue the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the states of rebellion. Lincoln had shared his first draft with his Cabinet as early as September 22, 1862. A facsimile of that Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation gifted to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum by the New York State Museum will be on display at the Smithfield Community Center. The First Steps to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation brochures from Albany explaining the document and Gerrit Smith’s role in preserving the treasure will be distributed.
Watch Night on New Year’s Eve 2014 ushers in the Sesquicentennial Year of the end of the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery in the United States, and the assassination of President Lincoln. 2015 heritage events in Peterboro will include a processional honoring veterans of the Civil War, programs about Appomattox, and Lincoln’s death at the 23rd Annual Civil War Weekend June 13 & 14. In October 2015 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum will be hosting Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle. The film and discussion series is supported by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and addresses the continuation of the struggle for freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment. The National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum is planning a special public weekend October 23-24 to feature Abraham Lincoln: The Great Emancipator.
The public is encouraged to join in this free Sesquicentennial observance of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dress warmly! Bring a flashlight! For more information: Owen Corpin at 315-750-6561 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Retired Navy Commander Owen Corpin, once again, prepared the watch fire and provided the program for the Watch Night commemoration at 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 31, 2014. The program began at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY 13134 and moved to the watch fire site on the Peterboro Green.
The First Steps to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamationbrochures from the New York State Museum in Albany explaining the document and Gerrit Smith’s role in preserving the treasure was distributed at the Watch Night event in Peterboro.
The First Watch Night for Emancipation in Peterboro: December 31, 2012
On December 31, 2012 the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) in Peterboro New York will presented a program from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm to commemorate and celebrate the tradition of “Watch Night.”
In 1862 African Americans congregated in homes, meeting halls, and churches in the North and in secret locations in the Confederacy on the evening of December 31, to “watch” for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation which would deliver them from a life of physical bondage into a life of freedom on January 1, 1863. It is important to remember and understand the significance of this event and the contributions that African American patriots then made as they joined the Union Army and Navy and enforced the Emancipation Proclamation on the way to victory in the Civil War.
The program included an informational session, the history of “Watch Nights” and traditional fellowship, freedom readings, songs and hymns, and NAHOF activities. The program will conclude at about 6:00 pm with a reading of portions of the Emancipation Proclamation and the lighting of a symbolic watch fire, in memory of the African Americans who served in the Civil War.
Watch Night , National Archives
African Americans watch through the night of December 31, 1862 for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation which would deliver them from a life of physical bondage into a life of freedom on January 1, 1863.
As night fell the commemoration of the 1862 event began at the Smithfield Community Center and home of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum.
The site was prepared for the Watch Fire on the Green in the center of Peterboro. Photos courtesy of Dr. J. Bowen
Own Corpin leads the gourp as the watch fire is lit.
Photo courtesy of R. Huerta