D.C.’s Enslavers Got Reparations. Freed People Got Nothing.
“By spring 1862, Lincoln and members of Congress took decisive steps to enact the U.S. federal government’s first general emancipation of enslaved people in the only district, without a state legislature, where they had direct power to do so. Championed by Lincoln and Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts, the proposal to end slavery in the nation’s capital was passed by decisive majorities in the House and Senate, before being signed into law by Lincoln on April 16.
In many ways, the District of Columbia Emancipation Act achieved in miniature what would later take place on an epic national scale during the great Emancipation that rolled across the Southern states from March to December 1865 — especially in its troubling execution, which would continue to hinder racial progress in decades and centuries to come.”
“In D.C.’s emancipation, enslavers were paid significant compensation for their “lost property” in enslaved African-American people. The freed Black people not only received no reparations, but also experienced ongoing governmental neglect and exclusions. This racist process of emancipation led to policy choices that would ensure that the disadvantages of slavery would continue to be passed down, not ended, after slavery’s end.”