Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick.
Nine months before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, he signed a bill on April 16, 1862, that ended slavery in the District of Columbia. The act finally concluded many years of disagreements over ending ”the national shame” of slavery in the nation’s capital.
The law provided for immediate emancipation, compensation to loyal Unionist masters of up to $300 for each freed slave, voluntary colonization of former slaves to colonies outside the United States, and payments of up to $100 to each person choosing emigration. Although this three-way approach of immediate emancipation, compensation, and colonization did not serve as a model for the future, it pointed toward slavery’s death. Emancipation was greeted with great joy by the District’s African American community.
The white population of DC took advantage of the act’s promise of compensation. One month after the act was issued, Margaret Barber presented a claim to the Board of Commissioners for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, saying that she wanted to be compensated by the Federal Government, which had freed her 34 slaves.
Margaret Barber estimated that her slaves were worth a total of $23,400. On June 16, 1862, slave trader Bernard Campbell examined 28 of Barber’s slaves to assess their value for the Commission. In the end, … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on December 26, 2012, under - Civil Rights, - Civil War, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: dc, district of Columbia, Emancipation Proclamation, lincoln, slavery, Thirteenth Amendment
Today’s guest post comes from Susan Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives. This post originally appeared on the White House blog.
Did you know that before the 1940s, Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be?
George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789. That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of “public thanksgiving.” The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November.
By the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Tradition had dictated that the holiday be celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, however, this tradition became increasingly difficult to continue during the challenging times of the Great Depression.
Roosevelt’s first Thanksgiving in office fell on November 30, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. This meant that there were only about 20 shopping days until Christmas and statistics showed that most people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. Business leaders feared they would … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 21, 2012, under - Great Depression, - Presidents, Myth or History, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tags: FDR, great depression, lincoln, Roosevelt, thanksgiving, Thursday, washington
Today is Emancipation Day for the District of Columbia. Some of you might immediately wonder if this is related to DC’s current efforts to win representation and a vote, but it is a celebration for a different kind of freedom for the residents of DC.
Eight and a half months before he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia.
Lincoln had struggled with how to resolve the issue of slavery, even encouraging freed slaves to return to Africa. And of course, slavery in the nation’s capital was an even thornier issue—antislavery advocates spoke of “the national shame.”
The bill had some success. Over the next nine months, the Board of Commissioners appointed to administer the act approved 930 petitions, completely or in part, from former owners for the freedom of 2,989 former slaves.
Although its combination of emancipation, compensation to owners, and colonization did not serve as a model for the future, the District of Columbia Emancipation Act was an early signal of slavery’s death. In the District itself, African Americans greeted emancipation with great jubilation. For many years afterward, Emancipation Day was celebrated with parades and festivals.
If Grover Cleveland were alive today, he would need to blow out 174 candles. And of course, he would need to be careful not to set his mustache alight as he bent toward the mighty blaze of his birthday cake.
Grover Cleveland’s election marked a turning point in Presidential facial hair. The beard was going out of fashion, and the mustache was rising to upper-lip prominence.
In fact, Lincoln was the first President to sport a beard (though Martin Van Buren was stiffly bewhiskered by sideburns). But after Lincoln’s death in 1865, his sucessor Andrew Johnson was clean shaven. Grant, Hayes, and Garfield made their turn through the highest office with fine beards, but the tide turned with the appearance of Chester A. Arthur’s mustache and meager sideburns.
President Cleveland had embraced the look of the clean-shaved face when he entered office the first time in 1885, but he maintained a mustache. When he returned for a second term in 1893, he still had the mustache.
Cleveland is the only President to be elected to two non-consective terms. For his second term, he defeated the incumbent President Harrison, who was the last President to date to have a beard. Did this electoral defeat signal the end of a hirsute era?
Cleveland was also the only President to be married in the White House. He married the much-younger Frances … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 18, 2011, under - Civil War, Facial Hair Fridays.
Tags: 174 candles, andrew johnson, Frances Folsom, Garfield, Grant, Grover Cleveland, Happy Birthday, Harrison, Hayes, lincoln, Presidents, Van Buren
Since April 2010, we’ve brought you more than 100 Pieces of History. Nothing too small, too strange, or too obscure has escaped the spotlight of our blog or the scalpel of your clever comments.
And we are still discovering new pieces of history every day here at the National Archives! But before we go forward into the 2011, let’s take a look back at some of the posts that our readers (and us, the writers) liked best.
TEN: Admittedly, Horace Greeley does not have the most massive chin whiskers of our Facial Hair Fridays stars, but the word “neard” has been introduced into our vocabulary. The world will never be the same.
NINE: With the “Discovering the Civil War” exhibit in full swing, it turns out there is a lot we didn’t know about the Civil War. Ten things, in fact.
EIGHT: Though the Constitution might have preventing her from voting, it did not prohibit Jeanette Rankin from joining the House of Representatives.
SEVEN: Time and space collide when William Shatner is Norton P. Chipman!
SIX: West Virginia–is it actually a state in the Constitutional sense?
FIVE: The people of Alaska wake up new American citizens and eleven days in the future.
FOUR: Is that a moleskine in your pocket or a mole skin in your file?
Posted by Hilary on December 30, 2010, under - Civil Rights, - Civil War, - Constitution, - Exploration, Facial Hair Fridays, Myth or History.
Tags: 2011, abraham lincoln, facebook, Gettysburg, Horace Greeley, Jeanette Rankin, lincoln, mole skin, moleskine, neard, Pieces of History, POH, teddy roosevelt, Top Ten, West Virginia, wine