The DC Voice

Emancipation Day in the District

Today’s cold, rainy, and soggy weather could have very well been the climate for the sentiment shared on this day back in 1862 by many non-enslaveable Washingtonians.  Perhaps Frederick Douglass wrote about the attitudes of the people in a more descriptive memo to a friend after his oration on that Emancipation day.  Douglass had written extensively on the enslaved, better known as “property in man,” prior to this day.

Upon President Lincoln’s delayed authored declaration of the Emancipation for the enslaved in Washington, five days later; those who had once labored were now free.  The Constitution did not detail the terms and conditions to identifying the enslaved passed “property in man,” perhaps it was more enriching to the environment at the time.  Furthermore, the probability of the Constitution protecting “property” was a possibility, so President Lincoln pushed forth with his plan.  “Understanding the Spirit of our institutions to aim at the elevation of men, I am opposed to whatever tends to degrade them.” – Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Theodore Canisus

With $300 as their compensation and no longer considered “property in man,” fewer than 3,200 enslaved laborer’s were set free by the District Emancipation Bill, but an estimated 11,000 had been affected (A History of Race Relations in the Nations Capital, Princeton University Press,1967).  What has changed in the District since signing day back in 1862?  Well, plenty and rather much for starters.  The city has had an influx of new residents just about every month.  The traffic is beyond traffic light signal controls.  And the city still waits for Congress to move it forward despite the continuous demand for statehood.  In the meantime America undergoes reconstruction to become great again, as President Trump likes to phrase it!

Being though President Trump did get his tax plan passed, he to, like President Lincoln faced much scrutiny and backlash for some of the tax plan spending measures which include a border wall being built.  Not sure if Trump’s tax plan will help the people in the District at this point who pay outrageous property taxes, five cent bag taxes, needless to mention access to affordable housing.  This alone can have many Washingtonian’s feeling like property of the DC Tax and Revenue Office with no option to an opinion of the opposing argument.  Meanwhile, the city is progressing in the area of high-rise sustainable buildings with a move-in specials starting at $300,000.00.

The Constitution is being challenged now, more than when President Lincoln found a loophole to delay his declaration for proclaming Emancipation Day on April 16, 1862.  Marches are mobilizing in mass numbers, protesting the ban of AR-15 assault riffles while demanding Congress undermine the Second Amendment to the Constitution which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Maybe one of these days America will regain control of its moral principles, but we shall over come some day, but until then free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty the District is free at last.  “The price of freedom has yet to equal equality.” -MJ

Mindy Hill

Mindy Hill

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