US Senate Apology for Slavery

From September 1862 to January 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued several draft documents that became the Emancipation Proclamation declaring free all slaves residing in the territory in rebellion against the federal government. According to the 1860 U.S. census, nearly four million slaves were held in a total population of just over 12 million in the 15 states in which slavery was legal. The Proclamation did not actually end the practice of slavery in America which had been in existence for more than two and a half centuries from 1607 to 1865. The end of slavery came several years later with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution on Dec. 18, 1865.

More than 146 years later, the US Senate recently passed by voice vote a resolution apologizing for slavery. The House passed a similar resolution last year. A key difference in the House and Senate versions relates to the issue of reparations. The Senate resolution contains a disclaimer that:

Nothing in this resolution (A) authorizes or supports any claim against the United States; or (B) serves as a settlement of any claim against the United States.

The House version has no such language. According to the WSJ Law Blog, The House is expected to revisit the issue next week in preparation for a joint congressional resolution. Whether the final resolution addresses the question of reparations is likely to be a topic of debate in and out of Congress.

The BLS Library has in its collection a number of items that address the topic of reparations including:

Reparations Pro & Con by Alfred L. Brophy (Call #KF4757 .B743 2006) with chapters titled: Reparations definitions — Black (and other) reparations in history — The modern Black reparations movement: why now, why, and what? — Against reparations — Evaluating reparations lawsuits — Legislative reparations — Reparations future, realistic reparations, and models of reparations

Uncivil Wars: the Controversy over Reparations for Slavery by David Horowitz (Call #E185.8 .H67 2002). This item has bibliographical references and chapters titled The fault line — The controversy — The ad — The administrators (Berkeley) — The students (Wisconsin) — The professors (Brown) — Traducing history — Racism and free speech — Reparations and the American idea