Select Statutes and Other Documents: Illustrative of the History of the United States, 1861-1898

By William MacDonald | Go to book overview

slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.

APPROVED, April 10, 1862.


No. 18. Act abolishing Slavery in the District of Columbia April 16, 1862

A BILL "for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia" was introduced in the Senate, December 16, 1861, by Henry Wilson of Massachusetts. The debate on the bill began March 12 and developed much opposition, but April 3, by a vote of 29 to 14, the bill passed. In the House a motion to reject the bill was lost, 45 to 93, and on the 11th the bill passed, the final vote being 85 to 40. In his message of approval Lincoln suggested that further time be allowed for the presentation of claims, and that provision be made for "minors, femmes covert, insane, or absent persons"; and a supplementary act was passed July 12 embodying these changes. The civil appropriation act of July 16 made an appropriation of $500,000 for the removal and colonization of the emancipated negroes, but this, as to the unexpended balance, together with section eleven of the act of April 16, was repealed by the civil appropriation act of July 2, 1864. Acts of May 20 and 21 provided for the education of colored children in the District.

REFERENCES . -- Text in U.S. Statutes at Large, XII, 376-378. For the proceedings see the House and Senate Journals, 37th Cong., 2d Sess., and the Cong. Globe. Calvert minority report, March 12, is House Report 58. For a report of the commissioners see House Exec. Doc. 42, 38th Cong., 1st Sess.

An Act for the Release of certain Persons held to Service or Labor in the District of Columbia.

Be it enacted . . ., That all persons held to service or labor within the District of Columbia by reason of African descent are hereby discharged and freed of and from all claim to such service or labor; and from and after the passage of this act neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for crime, whereof the party shall be duly convicted, shall hereafter exist in said District.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That all persons loyal to the

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