D.C. Emancipation Act: April 16th, 1862

This week celebrates the 152nd anniversary of the D.C. Emancipation Act, which ended slavery in the District of Columbia and came eight months before President Abraham Lincoln wrote and delivered the Emancipation Proclamation. It ultimately freed almost 3,000 slaves in Washington.

Now, and most years, there is a parade to go along with other events, to celebrate the anniversary.

Below is the first page of the Act. Read the transcript of the bill here.

DC Emancipation Act
First page of the DC Emancipation Act. Source: National Archives

The next day, on April 17th, 1862, several stories were run in local newspapers. From the National Republican newspaper, the story read:

National Republican Newspaper, April 17, 1862
National Republican Newspaper, April 17, 1862

Still Carrying Them Off.

We sincerely hope that the President will not delay the signing of the emancipation bill longer than necessary, as every day adds to the number which will be doomed to the degraded condition of slavery who ought to be free under the operation of this bill. Surely if freedom is a blessing, it ought to be besttowed on the greatest number possible by this bill. Every hour commits an additional fellow being to slavery…

…The Bill Signed. – Since writing the above we have received the extremely gratifying intelligence that President Lincoln has signed the District emancipation bill, and it is now the law of the land. The National Capital is free! “Glory to God!” said a friend to us on hearing the intelligence; and we said, “Amen!” and we trust all the people will say “Amen!”


About Sam E.

Sam is a new contributor to Ghosts of DC and Ghosts of Baltimore. He has been a long time fan of the website. As someone who can lose hours looking at old pictures and reading about DC history, the blog is a perfect outlet for him to explore the history of the District.

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