Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia Date in the current year: April 16, 2024

Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia Emancipation Day, also known as Juneteenth, is a U. S. federal holiday that commemorates the emancipation of slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865. However, some states and even cities also observe their own Emancipation Day on other dates. For example, Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia is observed on April 16.

Slavery was established in the New World throughout its European colonization and was a legal institution in the United States from the proclamation of its independence in 1776 until the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution in 1865.

Although most Northern states passed abolitionist laws either during the American Revolution or immediately following it, the Southern states heavily relied on slave labor and continued as slave societies, which eventually led to the United States splitting into slave states and free states.

The tensions between the North and the South continued to rise throughout the 19th century and finally peaked in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election with an abolitionist platform. This resulted in the secession of seven slave states (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas) and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861.

Almost two years into the war, on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared slaves in the Confederacy free. However, as we’ve already mentioned above, the emancipation of slaves in the Union had begun before the signing of the Proclamation.

For examples, slaves in the District of Columbia were emancipated by the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act, introduced by Massachusetts senator Henry Wilson and signed by President Abraham Lincoln on April 16, 1862.

The Act gave slave owners who remained loyal to the Union the right to petition for compensation of up to $300 from the federal government for each slave they freed. The District of Columbia was the only place where the federal government paid slaveholders compensation when their slaves were emancipated.

The Act freed over 3,000 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The federal government offered the formerly enslaved $100 to encourage them to emigrate to the North, but many chose to stay and even joined the Union Army to fight in the American Civil War.

Emancipation Day was celebrated in Washington D. C. throughout the second half of the 19th century, but the celebration eventually fizzled out. It was revived in 2000 and officially declared a public holiday in the District of Columbia in January 2005. It is normally celebrated on April 16 — the anniversary of the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act — but if April 16 falls during a weekend, the celebration is held on the nearest weekday.

Every year, Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia is observed by a string of activities, including concerts, fireworks, and the traditional Emancipation Day parade with marching bands from local schools and colorful floats. Inaugurated in 1866, the parade had been held annually until 1901 and was revived in 2002.

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Emancipation Day, Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, emancipation of slaves, observances in the United States