What did the slave owners receive for their slave property from the U. S. (the loss of slave property)? Are we supposed to believe they just went bankrupt? No more free labor? My mind is running wild here.

Raven Lewis




Dear Ms Lewis,

In 1862 slavery was abolished in Washington, D.C., and in an effort to keep the local slave owners loyal to the Union Abraham Lincoln’s administration offered to pay $300 each in compensation. This was paid out to 979 owners for 2,989 slaves, turning Washington into an island of freedom bounded by the slave states of Maryland and Virginia. Lincoln made a similar offer in an effort to win over the border states, but Delaware flatly rejected the proposal and it was never practiced again. In 1865 all the other slave owners lost all with the passing of the 13th Amendment and the national abolition of slavery. Although it had an effect on American trade (cotton had been the country’s chief export before the Civil War) and many landowners in the South were driven West to seek out new opportunities, the reversal of Reconstruction over the following decade led to farm workers in the South still working for very low pay and the growth of industry allowed the United States in general to economically recover and then some.



Jon Guttman

Research Director

World History


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