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Chocolate CityA History of Race and Democracy in the Nation's Capital$
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Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635866

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635866.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Slavery Must Die

Slavery Must Die

The Turbulent End to Human Bondage in Washington, 1836–1862

(p.84) Four Slavery Must Die
Chocolate City

Chris Myers Asch

George Derek Musgrove

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter describes the increasingly bold efforts by local abolitionists to challenge slavery and the slave trade in Washington, as well as the attempts by local white leaders to protect slavery and discourage black migration to the city. Washington served as a central stage in the growing national drama over slavery. Despite Congress’s attempt to squelch public debate with the “gag rule,” the question of slavery in the nation’s capital would not die. Frustrated abolitionists, unable to overcome what they called the “Slave Power,” went “underground” to help Washington-area slaves escape to freedom. As more and more enslaved people “absconded” (the term often used in advertisements for fugitives), city leaders struggled to preserve the peculiar institution by capturing and punishing runaways. With the nation tilting ominously toward civil war, slavery’s opponents and its defenders placed Washington on the front lines of the struggle over human bondage in America. The chapter culminates with the emancipation of D.C.’s 3,100 enslaved people in April 1862, more than eight months before the Emancipation Proclamation.

Keywords:   Slavery, Abolitionism, Compromise of 1850, Know Nothings, Civil War, Emancipation, Emancipation Proclamation

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