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Emancipation Day: Puerto Rico

Celebrating the abolition of slavery

by Liz Olson

On March 22, Puerto Rico celebrates the annual holiday, Emancipation Day, commemorating the abolition of slavery from its island in 1873. Slavery had existed in Puerto Rico since the mid-16th century. In 1866, petitions were brought to Parliament to end slavery. On March 22, 1873, the Spanish National Assembly banned slavery in Puerto Rico. Slave owners were given monetary compensation for each slave. For the following three years, however, slaves were required to continue working for their former owners.

In Puerto Rico, Emancipation Day is celebrated with festivities that include dancing to plena and bomba music, singing, and eating Caribbean cuisine.

Puerto Rico

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Did you know?
The United States purchased the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million on Dec. 20, 1803.

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