Hundreds flock to see Emancipation Proclamation on display

Hundreds flock to see Emancipation Proclamation on display in Nashville

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By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

NASHVILLE (WATE/AP) - The Emancipation Proclamation, an iconic piece of United States history, is now on display in Nashville at the Tennessee State Museum.

Hundreds of people flocked to see the five-page document Tuesday, the first day it was open to the public and the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday.

"It's really a great piece of American history and it's amazing that its accessible to just the average person," said Brandon Weldy of Nashville.

Generations have come and gone since it was written, but the importance of the role it played in shaping the future of America remains the same.

"This is one of the top four or five most important documents in American history. It's a milestone in the history of our country in the ending of slavery," said Bruce Bustard, senior curator of the National Archives in Washington D.C.

Bustard was part of the group responsible for bring the Emancipation Proclamation to Tennessee.

The delicate pages, signed by Abraham Lincoln himself, are extremely fragile.

To help preserve the writings, it can only be viewed in dim light for 30 minutes at a time, for a total of 72 hours over the next week.

"We want people to see the document now, but we want their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to be able to see it," said Bustard.

It's enclosed behind thick glass and cannot be touched. It's watched over by guards at all times.

The document is rarely moved from the National Archives, but Bustard said it deserved to be standing proud in Tennessee because of the state's role in the Civil War.

"There were more Civil War battles in Tennessee than any other state, except for Virginia," said Bustard.

"It's more than just a piece of paper. To see how much it actually represents, it's cool to have it here in Nashville," said Lauren Weldy of Nashville.

The Emancipation Proclamation is on display through Monday, February 18.

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