Emancipation Day 150 Years Later

Today is the 150th Anniversary of a very profound moment in American History.

Lincoln signing Act on April 16, 1862

And you probably won’t hear a lot about it. Today is Emancipation Day in Washington, DC.

The municipality of Washington, D.C., celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day. On that day in 1862, PresidentAbraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia. The Act freed about 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.

On January 4, 2005, Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed legislation making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District. Although Emancipation Day occurs on April 16, by law when April 16 is a Saturday, Emancipation Day is observed on the preceding Friday. Each year, a series of activities will be held during the public holiday including the traditional Emancipation Day parade celebrating the freedom of enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The Emancipation Day celebration was held yearly from 1866 to 1901, and was resumed as a tradition and historic celebration in 2002 as a direct result of years of research, lobbying and leadership done by Ms. Loretta Carter-Hanes.

In 2007, the observance of this holiday in Washington, D.C. had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from April 16 to April 17. The 2007 date change was not discovered until after many forms went to print. In 2011, the tax deadline was extended to Monday, April 18, since the observed date for the holiday was Friday, April 15. In 2012, because Emancipation Day falls on Monday, April 16, and the normal tax deadline of April 15 falls on a Sunday, the tax deadline will be on Tuesday, April 17. [Wikipedia]

Perhaps, in honor of this day — and at least in honor of getting an extra day off, perhaps the Righties could stop behaving (and writing) like the editors of the Richmond Daily Dispatch just prior to secession — as regards the Trayvon Martin case, the President, and in general. Just for one day.

Just for one day?

DC official celebration page

Probably not.

But Happy Emancipation Day, anyway.

It is a window into what might have happened, instead of the wholesale slaughter of four years of bloody war, and the impoverishment of a region for nearly a century, as a result of their selfishness.



UPDATE: Here’s a nice historical perspective from a Civil War network blog:

Lincoln Frees the Slaves in Washington; Davis Signs Conscription Act

April 16, 1862 (Wednesday)


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

Bookmark and Share

About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.