According to the National Archives and Records Administration, The District of Columbia Emancipation Act paved the way to compensate slave owners for their “loyalty to the Union” and for the loss of income incurred by freeing slaves.
On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Passage of this law came 8 1/2 months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The act brought to a conclusion decades of agitation aimed at ending what antislavery advocates called “the national shame” of slavery in the nation’s capital. It provided for immediate emancipation, compensation to former owners who were loyal to the Union of up to $300 for each freed slave, voluntary colonization of former slaves to locations outside the United States, and payments of up to $100 for each person choosing emigration.
Over the next 9 months, the Board of Commissioners appointed to administer the act approved 930 petitions, completely or in part, from former owners for the freedom of 2,989 former slaves.
The National Archives provides a brief, yet detailed, review of the DC Emancipation Act and its impact. Surprisingly, in addition to this legislation, Congress also passed a supplemental act that allowed slaves to come to DC and petition for their own freedom. History is complex.
DC Emancipation Act
Kenneth Winkle, Sorensen Professor of American History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, explains how the University’s new website, Civil War Washington (http://www.civilwardc.org), will make the petitions available to researchers.
Black Reparations Survey
Since writer and cultural critic Ta-Nehisi Coates made his compelling “Case For Reparations” in The Atlantic, it has been a hot-button topic and the questions have come fast and furious.
What is reparations? What should it look like? How has slavery and subsequent systems of oppression had a continuing impact on Black Americans?
Will the United States ever pay reparations for its role in what amounts to domestic terrorism against African Americans?
The truth is:
The institutionalized, government, banking and corporate, exploitation and oppression, must end before any real repairing can take place.