In the two years before Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, he tried a variety of strategies to make the idea more palatable to slaveholders. One of them was the policy of compensated emancipation, in which the government would in effect buy the slaves, and then free them. On March 5, 1862, on the night before Lincoln addressed Congress to propose the idea, he called a meeting of his Cabinet to discuss it. His signed letter to Secretary of State William Seward, in which Lincoln requests that Seward gather the Cabinet, will highlight Heritage’s auction of historical manuscripts in Beverly Hills on October 4th and 5th, , when it’s expected to sell for $120,000-$150,000.
As it happened, Lincoln’s pitch to Congress fell flat. Five weeks later, only the District of Columbia passed a new law implementing compensated emancipation. As a result, 2, 989 slaves were freed, at a cost of $300 per slave. The law further provided $100 to each freeman who’d agree to immigrate outside the U.S. to such places as Liberia or Haiti. The District of Columbia’s law was the only policy of compensated emancipation ever enacted in the United States.