Celebrating Juneteenth!

On January 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This important document declared that the slaves in the Confederate states (those rebelling against the US government) were free.

Southern states continued to hold people in slavery until the end of the Civil War, when US troops could more easily enforce the terms.  During the Civil War, there were about 250,000 slaves in Texas. Most of these slaves did not know of the Emancipation Proclamation or even that the war had ended in May 1865.

Portrait of Gordon Granger. Image available on online and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Major General Gordon Granger was given command of the military district of Texas after the Civil War. When he arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, he announced the Emancipation Proclamation and that slaves in Texas were free in General Order Number 3 – the first time many had heard this good news. 

Texans began observing June 19th (“Juneteenth”) annually with various festivities such as picnics, barbecues, and thanksgiving celebrations. It became a Texas state holiday in 1979 and eventually spread across the nation. Juneteenth is now recognized as a federal holiday.

Although Juneteenth was not the end of slavery in America, it was an important step in ending slavery in Texas. The Thirteenth Amendment, passed in January and ratified in December of 1865, officially ended slavery for the whole nation

About the author: Wallbuilders is an organization dedicated to helping Americans remember and preserve the true history of our great nation. Click here for more from wallbuilders.com.

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