America’s Historical Documents

The District of Columbia Emancipation Act


The District of Columbia Emancipation Act

An Act of April 16, 1862 [For the Release of Certain Persons Held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia], 04/16/1862 (National Archives Identifier: 299814); General Records of the United States Government; Record Group 11; National Archives.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Passage of this act came 9 months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The act brought to conclusion decades of agitation aimed at ending what antislavery advocates called "the national shame" of slavery in the nation's capital.
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