On April 25, 1864 — 15 months after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863 — Annie Davis, a slave, sent this letter to the White House:
Belair [Md.] Aug 25th 1864
Mr president It is my Desire to be free. To go to see my people on the eastern shore. My mistress wont let me. You will please let me know if we are free. And what i can do. I write to you for advice. Please send me word this week. Or as soon as possible and oblidge.