Documents Hold a Rare Wealth of Information on Civil War-Era Slaves in the Nation's Capital

Documents Hold a Rare Wealth of Information on Civil War-Era Slaves in the Nation's Capital 1

U. of Nebraska-Lincoln's Civil War Washington

This slave-owner compensation petition notes the name Philip Reid, who helped create the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the U.S. Capitol.

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close Documents Hold a Rare Wealth of Information on Civil War-Era Slaves in the Nation's Capital 1

U. of Nebraska-Lincoln's Civil War Washington

This slave-owner compensation petition notes the name Philip Reid, who helped create the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the U.S. Capitol.

They were domestics and carpenters and metal workers, husbands and wives and children—about 3,200 people enslaved in the nation's capital when the Civil War broke out. On April 16, 1862, eight and a half months before the Emancipation Proclamation, they were freed by Congress through the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act.

It was the first time the federal government set slaves at liberty. Now rare details of those lives are emerging, as scholars transcribe and study the