BLACK VOICES

‘Born In Slavery': The last American Slaves

A group of women and children, presumably slaves, sit and stand around the doorway of a rough wooden cabin, Southern United S
A group of women and children, presumably slaves, sit and stand around the doorway of a rough wooden cabin, Southern United States, mid 19th Century. One girl reads a book to the group of sitting children. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

One hundred and fifty-three years ago today, Washington D.C. was the first place in the country where slaves were freed by the federal government.

President Abraham Lincoln signed the District of Columbia Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862, freeing the district’s 3,100 slaves. The legislation was hint of slavery’s coming death in the United States — only 8 1/2 months later Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.

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