Jan. 1 marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

An image of the commemorative stamp issued by the USPS on the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON – The first of January is a two-fold celebration in America this year: It’s the start of a new year and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, the document that initiated the end of slavery in 1863.

To commemorate the date, the National Archives and Records Administration displayed pages 3 and 5 of the document for three days only, starting Dec. 31 and ending Jan. 1.

In addition, the United States Postal Service has unveiled a new Forever stamp that contains some of the words from the document.

Lincoln’s faded signature and that of his Secretary of State, William Seward, are visible along with the Seal of the United States.

The document is rarely displayed as part of the effort to preserve it, says Katherine Nicholson, the Archives Conservation Lab deputy director.

“We’ve been very careful and limiting display in the last few decades,” she says. “We want it to be readable by future generations.”

Many historians say only the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States have had as great an impact on human life in America as the proclamation.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein and Hank Silverberg contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2013 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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