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Emancipation Day

April 16, 2013

On April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, ending what many called the “national shame” of slavery in the nation’s capital.  The Act provided for up to $300 for each slave owned by a Union slaveholder; freed slaves were paid $100 to voluntarily emigrate.  Controversy continued about freeing slaves in the border states.  The Emancipation Proclamation was not issued until nine months later and would free all slaves still held in the 10 Confederate States, but did not affect states no longer in rebellion or those held by the Union.

At the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, there were approximately four million slaves throughout the country.  Slavery in the United States ended with the end of Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.  Neither the Emancipation Proclamation nor the Thirteenth Amendment provided compensation for freed slaves.

In 2005, Emancipation Day on April 16th was declared an annual public holiday in the District of Columbia.

Read more about Lincoln and emancipation:

Freedom National:  The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, by James Oakes.

Lincoln and the Constitution, by Brian R. Dirck.

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