April 16 marks the passage of the District of Columbia Emancipation Act of 1862. The Act ended slavery in the District, freed those held as slaves, compensated those who had legally owned the freed slaves and offered money to newly freed slaves to emigrate. The Act ended what abolitionists called the “national shame of slavery” in the nation’s capital.
The Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves held in Confederate states, was not effective until January 1, 1863. Slavery was finally abolished with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 6, 1865.
Emancipation Day is celebrated in the District every April 16 with a parade and other events.