On September 22, 1862, freedom of slaves in the United States was announced. Abraham Lincoln
that freed the slaves of the Confederacy. On taking office, Lincoln was concerned with preserving the Union and wanted only to prevent slavery from expanding into the Western territories; but, after the South seceded, there was no political reason to tolerate slavery. In September 1862 he called on the seceded states to return to the Union or have their slaves declared free. When no state returned, he issued the proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. The edict had no power in the Confederacy, but it provided moral inspiration for the North and discouraged European countries from supporting the South. It also had the practical effect of permitting recruitment of African Americans for the Union army; by 1865 nearly 180,000 African American soldiers had enlisted. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1865, officially abolished slavery in the entire country.