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H.R. 1244: The original legislation awarding a historic Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to Africans and their descendants enslaved within our country from August 20, 1619, to December 6, 1865

The text of the bill below is as of Feb 28, 2023 (Introduced).



1st Session

H. R. 1244


February 28, 2023

(for himself, Mr. Schiff, Mr. Espaillat, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Ms. Adams, Mr. Carson, Ms. Kuster, Ms. Pressley, Ms. Lee of California, Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, Ms. McCollum, Mr. Keating, Mrs. Watson Coleman, Mr. Sherman, Mr. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. García of Illinois, Mr. Allred, Ms. Bush, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Soto, Mr. Cicilline, Mr. David Scott of Georgia, Mr. Trone, Mrs. Dingell, Ms. Wasserman Schultz, Ms. Ross, Mr. Kilmer, Ms. Titus, Mr. Davis of North Carolina, Mr. Payne, Mr. Ruppersberger, Mr. Evans, Mr. Blumenauer, Ms. Norton, Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Pallone, Ms. Wilson of Florida, Mr. Connolly, Mr. Ivey, Ms. Meng, Mrs. Napolitano, Mr. Casar, Mr. Meeks, Ms. Moore of Wisconsin, Ms. Stevens, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Ms. Omar, Mr. Bowman, Ms. Schakowsky, Mr. Moskowitz, Ms. Crockett, Mr. Nadler, Mr. Clyburn, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Gomez, Mr. Castro of Texas, Mr. Neguse, Mr. Garamendi, Mr. Sarbanes, Mr. Jackson of Illinois, Mr. Gottheimer, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Vargas, Ms. Brownley, Ms. Porter, Mr. Mfume, Ms. Blunt Rochester, Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Doggett, Ms. Lois Frankel of Florida, Mrs. Trahan, Mrs. McBath, Ms. Dean of Pennsylvania, Mr. Veasey, Ms. Strickland, Mr. Pocan, Mr. Takano, Ms. Scanlon, Ms. Waters, Mr. Frost, Ms. Barragán, Ms. Williams of Georgia, Ms. Velázquez, Mr. Tonko, Mr. Aguilar, Ms. Jayapal, Mr. Krishnamoorthi, Ms. Tlaib, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Torres of New York, Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Gallego, Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Ms. Jacobs, Mr. Casten, Mr. Moulton, Ms. Jackson Lee, Ms. Brown, Mr. Lynch, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Horsford, Ms. Bonamici, Ms. Kamlager-Dove, Ms. Garcia of Texas, Mr. Lieu, Ms. Sewell, Mr. Cárdenas, Mr. Carter of Louisiana, Mrs. Foushee, Mr. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas, and Ms. Clarke of New York) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Financial Services, and in addition to the Committees on House Administration, and the Budget, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To posthumously award a historic Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to Africans and their descendants enslaved within our country from August 20, 1619, to December 6, 1865.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the The original legislation awarding a historic Congressional Gold Medal, collectively, to Africans and their descendants enslaved within our country from August 20, 1619, to December 6, 1865.



Congress finds the following:


Human beings were systematically abducted from the continent of Africa and placed against their will onto ships that would cross the Atlantic Ocean.


These persons were chained within the holds of ships in horrendous conditions for the duration of the transatlantic journey, which lasted up to six months.


Upon arrival in North America, they were forced into labor among the English and European colonies that would later become the United States.


Their enslavement was concentrated on farms and plantations that produced crops such as cotton, tobacco, and sugar cane.


The practice of slavery continued up to and past the eventual American Revolution against England and the founding of the United States of America.


In the ensuing decades, slavery persisted primarily in States where the economy was based significantly on farming.


The treatment of enslaved people continued to be horrendous in nature, including exploitation, family separation, rape, torture, and degradation, among other cruelties.


Slave labor was essential to the functioning of many farms and plantations and therefore was essential to the growth of the United States economy as a whole.


Slave labor was used to build notable buildings and monuments in the United States, including the United States Capitol Building, the White House, the Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, which was the home of George Washington, and Monticello, which was the home of Thomas Jefferson.


The profits from and involvement of slave labor were also essential to the construction of the Smithsonian Institution, Wall Street, Harvard University, Georgetown University, and Fort Sumter.


It has been estimated that the total economic value of slave labor is between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion in 2009 dollars.


The United States became increasingly divided between slaveholding and non-slaveholding States and territories, including as to whether slavery should be expanded to new States and territories or abolished altogether.


The secession of States from the United States began on December 20, 1860, and led to the formation of the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861.


The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, with the attack on Fort Sumter by Confederate forces.


On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring that all persons held as slaves in Confederate States henceforward shall be free.


After four years of grueling battle and conflict, the Civil War concluded with the surrender of the commander of the Confederate forces on April 9, 1865, although fighting continued until November 6, 1865, and the Civil War was proclaimed to be over by President Andrew Johnson on August 20, 1866.


The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution abolishing slavery passed the Congress on January 31, 1865, and was ratified by the required number of States on December 6, 1865.


The text of the 13th Amendment states that, Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction..


The use of slave labor over hundreds of years resulted in immense suffering and deprivation among the people who fell victim to these abhorrent practices.


At the same time, the extensive, long-term use of unpaid labor advantaged the United States economy immeasurably.


Congressional gold medal


Award authorized

The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design dedicated to the enslaved persons collectively in recognition of their service as the greatest contributors to the foundation of America’s economic greatness.


Design and striking

For the purposes of the award referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury shall strike the gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.


Smithsonian institution

Following the award of the gold medal described in subsection (a), the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be displayed at the National Museum of African American History & Culture and made available for research.


Duplicate medals


In general

The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 3, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the bronze medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.


Proceeds of sales

The amounts received from the sale of duplicate medals under subsection (a) shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.


Authority To use fund amounts

There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck under this Act.


Status of medals

The gold medal struck pursuant to this Act is a national medal for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.


Determination of budgetary effects

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.