Emancipation Day

By | Apr 16, 2012

On April 16, 1862 President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act for the District of Columbia.

The act emancipated slaves in Washington DC. $1 million was set aside to give Union slaveholder up to $300 for their freed slave. This was nearly nine months before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. This is the only compensated emancipation plan enacted in the United States.

As a congressman in 1849 Lincoln first proposed the elimination of slavery in Washington.

April 16th has been celebrated as Emancipation Day in Washington DC since 1866. An annual parade was held to commemorate the signing of the act until 1901 when finances forced its discontinuance. It was restarted in 2002.

On January 4, 2005, legislation was signed to make Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District of Columbia. Elsewhere in the United States, the emancipation of slaves is celebrated in Florida (May 20), Puerto Rico (March 22) and Texas (June 19).

Since April 16th is a Government Holiday in Washington DC and April 15th falls on a Sunday, in 2012 Federal Income Taxes do not need to be filed until April 17th.


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