Washington, DC celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day.
On that day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act (an act of Compensated emancipation) for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia.
The Act freed about 3,100 slaves in the District of Columbia nine months before President Lincoln issued his broader 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.
The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Commission develops plans, programs, projects and activities to celebrate the holiday and commemorate the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. The Office of the Secretary is charged with organizing, planning and coordinating the District of Columbia Emancipation Day activities.