In 2011, the United States Postal Service began a five-year series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
With the 2013 Forever stamp, the U.S. Postal Service commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which President Abraham Lincoln signed on Jan. 1, 1863.
Lincoln's proclamation, issued nearly two years into the Civil War, declared that all slaves in the rebel states of the Confederacy "are, and henceforward shall be free."
The Emancipation Proclamation stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp in self-adhesive sheets of 20.
Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.
The stamp art uses that powerful statement, "Henceforward Shall Be Free," on a design evocative of broadsides from the Civil War era.
Lincoln believed the Emancipation Proclamation, potentially applying to several million African-American slaves in the South, was the "central act of my administration, and the great event of the nineteenth century."
According to many historians, only the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States have had as great an impact on human life and liberty for so many.
One provision of the proclamation authorized enlisting African Americans in the Union army. Some 180,000 blacks subsequently joined the army, and nearly 40,000 gave their lives fighting for freedom.
Art director Antonio Alcal worked with graphic designer Gail Anderson to produce this important commemorative stamp, one of a civil rights set being issued in 2013.
Debra Mitchell is a spokeswoman for U.S. Postal Service.