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District of Columbia Emancipation Act (16 April 1862)locked


If the moral and intellectual hypocrisy of slavery had an epicenter in the United States, then surely it must have been the nation's capital, where the machinery of government operated ostensibly for, by, and of the people. Slavery inside the District had long been a thorn in the side of northern abolitionists—upon whom the biting irony was not lost—and so on 16 April 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed this act of Congress into law, nine months before he would put his name to the Emancipation Proclamation.

The only instance of federally compensated emancipation in the nation s history the District of Columbia Emancipation Order not only immediately freed some 3 100 enslaves people but it also offered them $100 financial assistance should they choose to emigrate to colonies outside the Unites States their former masters meanwhile received $300 for their losses Total compensation under the act eventually approached a million ...

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