The Emancipation Proclamation, or Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. It changed the federal legal status of more than 3. 5 million enslaved African Americans in the designated areas of the South from slave to free. As soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the former slave became free. Ultimately, the rebel surrender liberated and resulted in the proclamation's application to all of the designated former slaves. It did not cover slaves in Union areas that were freed by state action (or three years later by the 13th amendment in December 1865). It was issued as a war measure during the American Civil War, directed to all of the areas in rebellion and all segments of the executive branch (including the Army and Navy) of the United States.