WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement marking the 145th anniversary of Emancipation Day in the District of Columbia, the day on which slaves in the District were freed:
"On today's date in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that freed more than 3,100 enslaved persons within the District of Columbia, and helped close a chapter in American history that will forever scar our national conscience.
"The Compensated Emancipation Act, as it was known, was one of the first official acts that sought to end slavery in the United States and extend the liberties guaranteed in our Constitution to Americans that had been unjustly denied their God-given rights since our country's inception.
"But today, 145 years later, the residents of the District cannot help but celebrate this momentous occasion with a certain sense of irony, because Washington remains the only capital city in the free world whose citizens do not have voting representation in their federal legislature.
"The time has come for this national embarrassment to be rectified - and I am hopeful that the People's House will confront the issue of D.C. voting rights sometime in the very near future. I remain confident that our efforts to fully enfranchise the nearly 600,000 residents of the District will succeed - because, after all, a vote in favor of DC voting rights in the House of Representatives is nothing less than a vote in defense of democracy and all of the values and principles for which our nation stands."