Copies of Emancipation Proclamation, 13th Amendment Signed by Lincoln Sell for Millions

PHOTO: An employee adjusts a display of two significant and foundational documents of the US, the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment signed by President Abraham Lincoln, to be auctioned at the Sothebys in New York, May 18, 2016.PlayJewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images
WATCH Emancipation Proclamation, 13th Amendment Sell for Millions at Auction

Some of the most historical and consequential anti-slavery documents in U.S. history -- signed by President Abraham Lincoln -- fetched millions at auction.

Copies of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment sold for a total of more than $4 million by auction house Sotheby's on Wednesday.

Sotheby's initially hoped the documents signed by the 16th president would fetch $5 million at auction.

The 13th Amendment, which sold for $2.4 million, was one of the 14 copies signed by Lincoln Feb. 1, 1865, according to Sotheby's. It's also one of three "Senate copies" that are signed by the vice president and 36 senators.

The amendment abolished slavery, stating that "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist with the United States."

The amendment was ratified in December 1865, roughly six months after the Civil War ended. But Lincoln was assassinated in April and didn't live long enough to actually see the enacted into law.

Sotheby's copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a limited edition print, sold for $2.17 million by a telephone bidder. It was not an original, even though it was signed by Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.

The document is one of 27 surviving copies of the original 48, according to Sotheby's.

Lincoln signed the original Emancipation Proclamation Jan. 1, 1863, the third year of the Civil War, declaring "that all persons held as slaves" within the Confederacy "are, and henceforward shall be free."

The proclamation allowed liberated slaves to serve in the Union Army and Navy.