Leaders and residents of the District of Colombia (DC) are celebrating a holiday that is unique to the nation's capital, on Wednesday, 16 April.
The Washington DC Emancipation Day commemorates 16 April 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln freed all slaves in the city. Lincoln, who is one of most admired presidents of the United States, signed the Emancipation Proclamation nine months later.
Government offices and schools within the districts remain closed on Wednesday. Among the activities planned for the day include a parade and a concert.
The parade and concert were the subject of a dispute between the DC Council and Mayor Vincent Gray this year. However, the Washington Post reports that the 'funding dispute', which initially threatened to cancel the annual event, has been resolved and the Emancipation Day parade will proceed as scheduled.
On Emancipation Day 2014, we take a look at some of the unique facts associated with the day:
- On 16 April 1862, President Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act for the release of 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia.
- The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act is thought to be the only known example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.
- Nine months later, on 1 January 1863, Lincoln issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation that announced freedom from slavery to about 3.1 million of the 4 million slaves in the US at that time.
- On 4 January 2005, Mayor Anthony A. Williams signed legislation, making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District.
- In 2007, because of the observance of this holiday in Washington DC, it had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from 16 April to 17 April.
- Emancipation Day is celebrated on different dates in different parts of the United States.