This lot contains two documents detailing the controversy and subsequent implementation of the act to free slaves in the District of Columbia. Critics chided President Lincoln as the largest slaveholder in the country because slavery persisted in the District of Columbia administered at the time by the federal government. The bill supported by Lincoln to free the slaves in the District encountered strong opposition demonstrated in the first document, Congressman Calvert’s minority report on the bill. Calvert, an owner of a plantation in Maryland, was a large slave owner, and his report is an impassioned defense of slavery and objection to the bill. The bill passed and signed by Lincoln provided for compensation for slave owners and established a commission to administer the compensation. The second report is the commission’s final report with the names of slave owners, names of their slaves and compensation paid. The largest slave owner was George Washington Young with 69 slaves. Some owners are identified as “colored” and some owners are unexpected, e.g. the Sisters of Visitation in Georgetown who received compensation for 12 slaves. The text describes some individual cases and notes that the commission relied on a Baltimore slave trader for advice on valuations. Approximately 930 slave owners received compensation for about 2,989 former slaves.
A. Slavery in the District of Columbia, by Charles B. Calvert, from 37th Congress, 2nd Session, H.R. Doc. 58, published 1862. 22 pages. Disbound.
B. Emancipation in the District of Columbia. Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury … Transmitting the Report and Tabular Statements of the Commissioners Appointed in Relation to Emancipated Slaves in the District of Columbia, by S.P. Chase, from 38th Congress, 1st Session, H.R. Doc. 42, published 1864. 79 pages. Disbound.