Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day

Emancipation Day is celebrated in various locations in observation generally of the emancipation of slaves.


The Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834. Emancipation Day is widely observed in the British West Indies during the first week of August, with most celebrating it on August 1 and the others on the first Monday in August. In some Caribbean countries the Emancipation Day celebration is a part of carnivals which take place during this time.

world wide


The state of Florida observes emancipation in an unofficial commemoration on May 20. In the capital, Tallahassee, Civil War reenactors playing the part of Major General Edward McCook and other union soldiers act out the speech General McCook gave from the steps of the Knott House on 1865-05-20. [cite web |url=http://www.flheritage.com/museum/mfh/calendar/ |title=Knott House Museum Exhibits & Programs |accessdate=2007-05-20] This was the first reading of the Emancipation Proclamation in Florida. [cite web |url=http://www.flheritage.com/museum/mfh/calendar/|url=http://www.flheritage.com/museum/sites/knotthouse/ |title=Knott House Museum |accessdate=2007-05-20]

Washington, D.C.

The municipality of Washington, D.C., celebrates April 16 as Emancipation Day. On that day in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Compensated Emancipation Act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia. The Act freed about 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia nine months before President Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation which presaged the eventual end of slavery to the rest of the nation. The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act represents the only example of compensation by the federal government to former owners of emancipated slaves.

On January 4, 2005, Mayor Anthony Williams signed legislation making Emancipation Day an official public holiday in the District. Each year, a series of activities will be held during the public holiday including the traditional Emancipation Day parade celebrating the freedom of enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The Emancipation Day celebration was held yearly from 1866 to 1901, and was resumed as a tradition and historic celebration in 2002 [http://www.os.dc.gov/os/cwp/view,a,1207,q,608954.asp "DC Celebrates Emancipation"] , Government of the District of Columbia] as a direct result of years of research, lobbying and leadership done by Ms. Loretta Carter-Hanes. Fact|date=April 2007

In 2007, the observance of this holiday in Washington DC had the effect of nationally extending the 2006 income tax filing deadline from the 16th to the 17th of April, a delay that will recur in April of 2012. This 2007 date change was not discovered until after many forms went to print. [ [http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=167194,00.html Taxpayers Have Until April 17 to File and Pay (IR-2007-15)] , Internal Revenue Service, 2007-01-24]


In Texas, Emancipation Day is celebrated on June 19. It commemorates the announcement in Texas of the abolition of slavery made on that day in 1865. It is commonly known as Juneteenth.

Puerto Rico

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico celebrates Emancipation Day, an official holiday, on March 22.


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