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Message to Congress Proposing an Act of Compensated Emancipation

July 04, 1862

Fellow Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Herewith is the draft of the bill to compensate any State which may abolish slavery within its limits, the passage of which, substantially as presented, I respectfully and earnestly recommend.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled:

That whenever the President of the United States shall be satisfied that any State shall have lawfully abolished slavery within and through-out such State, either immediately or gradually, it shall be the duty of the President, assisted by the Secretary of the Treasury, to prepare and deliver to each State an amount of six per cent. interest-bearing bonds of the United States equal to the aggregate value at ______ dollars per head of all the slaves within such State, as reported by the census of 1860; the whole amount for any one State to be delivered at once if the abolishment be immediate, or in equal annual instalments if it be gradual, interest to begin running on each bond at the time of delivery, and not before.

And be it further enacted, That if any State, having so received any such bonds, shall at any time afterwards by law reintroduce or tolerate slavery within its limits, contrary to the act of abolishment upon which such bonds shall have been received, said bonds so received by said State shall at once be null and void, in whosesoever hands they may be, and such State shall refund to the United States all interest which may have been paid on such bonds.

Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress Proposing an Act of Compensated Emancipation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/268195

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