Statement From Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich on Maryland Emancipation Day

by Patrick Herron
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For Immediate Release: Monday 1 November

Today we commemorate a pivotal day in our state’s history. On Nov. 1, 1864, one year before the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution took effect, all those who were enslaved in Maryland were freed after the passing of the state’s new constitution. At the time, Maryland’s population is estimated to have had a little more than 171,000 Blacks that were almost equally split between free and enslaved people. This very close, but important, vote put Maryland among the few states to abolish slavery before the federal government.

History teaches us how important voting and access to voting are. The Emancipation, in Maryland, of enslaved people occurred because of the power of absentee ballots. Absentee ballots from Union soldiers for the state’s new constitution enabled this emancipation.

Today, Maryland is the most diverse state on the east coast, and Montgomery County is one of the state’s most diverse counties. Our journey as a state has led to more equality and freedom. However, our journey is long from over, and it will take all of us to create a County and state that will be more inclusive and equitable for all.

I ask all Montgomery County residents to learn more about the history of Maryland Emancipation Day and participate in the activities that are taking place this week around the County to commemorate the 157th anniversary of this monumental day in our state’s history.

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