USPS Announces Emancipation Proclamation 150th Anniversary Forever Stamp

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The U.S. Postal Service will honor the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation with a commemorative stamp in early 2013.

The Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp will be issued early next year at a yet to be determined location. Customers may pre-order the stamp now at or by phone at 800-Stamp24 (800-782-6724) for delivery a few days following the dedication ceremony. Orders for limited-edition posters will be fulfilled immediately.

The 16″ x 23″ poster features the same art used on the stamp. Using the traditional letterpress printing process that makes each one unique, only 5,000 were produced. Visit this link to view the process. Each poster also bears a limited-edition number. To add to their collectability, the first 1,000 posters will be autographed by graphic designer Gail Anderson and fulfilled with the lowest numbers first in the order in which orders are placed.

Item #   




  Letterpress poster numbered  



  Letterpress poster numbered and autographed


The phrase “Henceforward Shall Be Free” is taken from the Emancipation Proclamation. Art director Antonio Alcalá of Alexandria, VA, worked with graphic designer Gail Anderson of New York City to produce the stamp. To evoke the look of posters from the Civil War era, they employed Hatch Show Print of Nashville, TN, one of the oldest working letterpress print shops in America.

Lincoln‘s Proclamation

Issued nearly two years into the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation declared that all slaves in the states of the Confederacy “are, and henceforward shall be free.”

Not until July 1862, after exhausting all other alternatives, did Lincoln in his capacity as Commander in Chief resort to a “war powers” proclamation to free the slaves. Secretary of State William H. Seward, however, persuaded Lincoln to delay its release until after a Union victory on the battlefield. Finally, on Sept. 22, 1862, after Union forces defeated the Confederate army at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary version of the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that on Jan. 1 slaves in the states still in rebellion would be legally free.

As a war powers order, the Emancipation Proclamation could not free slaves in the four border states still loyal to the Union, and actual freedom for slaves in the rebellious states depended on future Union military advances into the South. Still, for the first time, the Emancipation Proclamation allowed Lincoln to make freedom for slaves an explicit goal of the war. As he put it in his annual message to Congress, “In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free.”

Customers may view the Emancipation Proclamation Forever Stamp, as well as many of this year’s other stamps on Facebook at, on Twitter @USPSstamps or on the website Beyond the Perf at Beyond the Perf is the Postal Service’s online site for information on upcoming stamp subjects, first-day-of-issue events and other philatelic news.

How to Order First-Day Covers

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamp issues and Postal Service stationery items post­marked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the quarterly USA Philatelic Catalog, online at, or by calling 800-782-6724. Customers may request a free catalog by calling 800-782-6724 or writing to:

U.S. Postal Service
Catalog Request
PO Box 219014
Kansas City, MO 64121-9014

Philatelic Products

There are 10 philatelic products available for this stamp issue:

  • 470361 First-Day Cover 89 cents
  • 470365 Digital Color Postmark $1.60
  • 470367 Letterpress poster numbered $29.95
  • 470377 Letterpress poster autographed $49.95
  • 470384 Press Sheet with die cut $90
  • 470386 Press Sheet without die cut $90
  • 470391 Ceremony Program $6.95
  • 470392 Stamp Deck Card 95 cents
  • 470394 Stamp Deck Card with Digital Color Postmark $1.95
  • 470399 Digital Color Postmark Keepsake will full pane $10.95