April 16 is Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C.

On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act. The Act immediately freed 3,100 slaves within the District, provided up to $300 of compensation to former owners who remained loyal to the Union, and provided opportunities for freed slaves to return to Africa by offering $100 to any former slave that chose to emigrate.

This happened nine months before the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Confederate states.

In 2005, Emancipation Day became an official holiday in the District.  City employees receive the day off and public schools are closed and there are a number of educational and commemorative events.

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