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D.C. Emancipation Document On View In Capitol

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Cheerleaders march in the Emancipation Day parade in D.C. April 16.
Markette Smith
Cheerleaders march in the Emancipation Day parade in D.C. April 16.

It's literally a few short pages in D.C.'s history, but the document is an important one.

This year marks 150 years from the date President Abraham Lincoln signed the D.C. Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862. The act freed more than 3,000 slaves in the District nine months before the 16th president signed the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in the South.

The DC Emancipation document is now on display at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center as part of the 150th anniversary.

It's just so exciting to see this original document and to see the original signature of Abraham Lincoln and he signed it April 16, 1862," says Sharon Gang of the Capitol Visitor Center. 

Lincoln's signature is written neatly in cursive on the last line of the document. Before signing his name, the 16th president wrote one simple word: "approved."

To mark the anniversary yesterday, District leaders shut down a portion of Pennsylvania Avenue NW for a parade. Patricia Williams was there.

"Well, you know, D.C. has really become a melting pot. It's an international melting pot and it's a cultural melting pot," Williams said. "If we do not learn about each other's history and past and all of the things that are important to each culture, then we can't come together as a people."

The original copy of the D.C. Emancipation Act is on display at the Capitol Visitor Center until September. 

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