The enduring implications of the Emancipation Proclamation were recognized by only a few of its contemporary advocates; the others merely accepted it as a necessary instrument for the successful prosecution of the Civil War. Opponents criticized it on both legal and moral grounds. This generously documented and academically competent treatment of the Proclamation's conception, gestation, birth, and consequences also conveys something of the drama attendant upon Lincoln's decision to ""give liberty a moral recognition"", as Henry Ward Beecher appraised it. The slavery question was originally ignored amid the greater problems of national unity, but Lincoln sensed its rightful place as the basis of the war, and determined that he could not relinquish the opportunity to correct history for the benefit of future generations. Franklin has set forth the most discreet details of the Procmation's preliminary stages and final formulation, but he never loses sight of the total picture. Integrity, a sense of proportion, and a fluid writing style combine to distinguish his effort.