President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama meet with a small group of African American seniors and their grandchildren on the legacy of the civil rights movement and view the Emancipation Proclamation, in the Oval Office, Jan. 18, 2010
*A rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation that has been hanging in the Oval Office on loan from a private collector is set to move to an undisclosed location in mid-July, reports the AP.
The document, which previously had been on loan to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, was originally supposed to move from the Oval Office to the Lincoln Bedroom after six months. But its owner David Rubenstein, a billionaire businessman, plans to move it to “a new home where many people will get to see it,” said his spokesman Christopher Ullman. “It will soon be revealed where that will be.”
The original, handwritten Emancipation Proclamation – signed by Lincoln on Jan. 1, 1863, to end slavery – is in the National Archives. The document on display in the Oval Office is one of 48 souvenir printed copies that were signed by Lincoln in June 1864 and sold for $10 each to raise money for medical supplies for Union soldiers. About half of them still exist, most in museums and libraries.
The copy in the Oval Office was brought in for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and has been hanging above a bronze bust of King ever since. [See photo above.]
Michael Strautmanis, chief of staff for the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, helped arrange the proclamation’s visit to the White House. On the day it arrived, Obama first sat down with African American elders in the Roosevelt Room for an MLK Day discussion about civil rights. Then, White House staff surprised the elders by taking them across the hall to the Oval Office to see the Emancipation Proclamation.
One guest, 102-year-old Mabel Harvey, whispered in the president’s ear, “This must be the Lord’s doing because we’ve come a mighty long way.”
Replacing the Emancipation Proclamation in the Oval Office will be a rare period painting of the capital from 1833, George Cooke’s “City of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard,” which previously had occupied that same spot to the left of the fireplace.