Emancipation Day

Image: President Lincoln riding through Richmond, Virginia, April 4, 1865. Source: Library of Virginia.

On April 16, 1872, the Japanese delegates arrived in the nation’s capital. Their visit coincided with the 10th anniversary of Emancipation Day, celebrating the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act by President Licoln in 1862 that freed slaves in the District of Columbia. The streets were filled with parade-goers, as African Americans waved banners, marching bands filled blocks with music, and women rode in carriages in celebration. Upon being received at the White House, the delegation watched a 101-gun salate. Kunitake Kume commented upon the immeasurable accomplishments made by African Americans post-slavery, proof that intelligence was in no way limited by skin color. He surmised that education was a key driver of prosperity, and suggested that the creation of new schools, which could foster studious children within them, would allow African Americans an equal path forward.

Image:Large crowd of African Americans celebrating the abolition of slavery in Washington, D.C., April 19, 1866. Source: Library of Congress  

Kume, Kunitake. “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” In Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 63-65. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.