On this date in 1862, President Lincoln signed a bill entitled “The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act.”  Though this particular bill was not composed by Lincoln, he had while serving as a congressman in 1849 introduced a similar measure. That was, of course, unsuccessful at that time.

The emancipation bill of 150 years ago today resulted in the compensated freedom for about 3,200 slaves residing or working in Washington. The total cost was around $1,000,000 ($300 per slave to owners) … and this is the only compensated emancipation act ever completed in the USA – though others were debated. In fact, at this very time, debates were swirling in Congress relative to dealing with slavery in the border states.

The passage and signing of this bill set the stage for larger efforts and measures to come – ultimately of course the Emancipation Proclamation – announced in the wake of Antietam on September 22nd.

April 16th is “Emancipation Day” in Washington and is celebrated annually as such.

Emancipation statue in DC

About Randy Buchman

I live in Western Maryland, and among my too many pursuits and hobbies, I regularly feed multiple hungry blogs. I played college baseball, coached championship cross country teams at Williamsport (MD) High School, and have been a sportswriter for various publications and online venues. My main profession is as the lead pastor of a church in Hagerstown called Tri-State Fellowship. And I'm active in Civil War history and work/serve at Antietam National Battlefield with the Antietam Battlefield Guides organization. Occasionally I sleep.

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