When the District of Columbia was established in 1800, the laws of Maryland, including its slave laws, remained in force. Additional laws on slavery and free blacks were then made by the U.S. Congress for the District, and by Southern standards its slave codes were moderate. Slaves were permitted to hire out their services and to live apart from their masters. Free blacks were permitted to live in the city and to operate private schools. On April 16, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill abolishing slavery that compensated loyal Union slave owners in the District up to $300 for each slave freed. The bill also authorized colonization for willing freed slaves. An Emancipation Claims Commission hired a Baltimore slave trader to assess the value of each freed slave, and awarded compensation for 2,989 slaves. Looking to publish the news in his periodical The Independent, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher wired Abraham Lincoln for confirmation that the national capital was now free territory.