"Some Satisfactory Way": Lincoln and Black Freedom in the District of Columbia

Edna Medford, Howard University

Published by: Historical Society of Washington, D.C.


On April 16, 1862, sixty-one-year-old Nicholas became a freeman. Prior to his emancipation, Nicholas had lived and labored as a slave in the nations capital, where freemen professed to honor the principles espoused in the Declaration of Independence. It would take congressional action and the president's concurrence to elevate Nicholas and his fellow African Americans from chattel to umankind. Even then, his worth and that of the more than 3,000 other men, women, and children who gained their freedom by the statute was measured in strictly economic terms.