Compensated Emancipation Act

April 16 has special meaning for the District of Columbia. On that day in 1862, President Abraham 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 DC nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation telegraphing the eventual end of slavery to the rest of the nation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to free enslaved persons.