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date: 02 April 2020

Washington, DC, Free Black Community inlocked

  • Ida E. Jones


The free black community in Washington, DC has roots dating to the founding of the capital city in the 1790s. In 1791 President George Washington selected the site for the nation's capital. The decision was based in part on the advantages offered by the Potomac River and the port of Georgetown, which both provided strategic and commercial benefit to the fledgling nation. The District of Columbia was carved from two slave-holding states, Maryland and Virginia. The city founders sought to create an area where the federal government would be centrally located and operational, even though it was also occupied by Native Americans, whites, and enslaved African people.

The free black community flourished from 1800 until the emancipation of the city's slaves in 1862 By the 1840s the free black population outnumbered the enslaved population with 1 700 enslaved and 4 800 free blacks Green 38 During this window of ...

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