Emancipation Proclamation marks 150th anniversary

To mark the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, the original document goes on display for just a few days in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP) — As New Year's Day approached 150 years ago, all eyes were on President Abraham Lincoln. The nation was expecting what he warned would be coming just 100 days earlier: a final proclamation declaring all slaves to be free in Southern states rebelling against the Union.

The tradition of holding Watch Night services began Dec. 31, 1862, as many black church congregations awaited word that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect amid the ongoing Civil War.

This year, that tradition follows the document to its home at the National Archives, with a special midnight display planned with readings, songs and bell ringing among the nation's founding documents.

The official proclamation bearing Lincoln's signature and the United States seal will make a rare appearance at the National Archives Building beginning Sunday through Jan. 1. The document is only displayed for a limited time each year due to its fragility and sensitivity to light.