Juneteenth

The declaration issued in Texas informing citizens that all slaves were free as of June 19, 1865
The declaration issued in Texas informing citizens that all slaves were free as of June 19, 1865

Historical Context

US President Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, but in Civil War-era America, enforcement of this declaration was painfully slow. Since the declaration had been made in the middle of the war, it was not until the final victory of the Union government in mid-1865 that many slaves in former Confederate states were granted their final freedom.

One of the remotest slave states was Texas. Very few battles of the war took place in the state, which had been more notable as a place where the blockade of Confederate ports was evaded by smugglers. After the end of the war, federal troops did not arrive in Texas until June 19, 1865, which has become known as Juneteenth. On this day Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived on Galveston Island and issued his General Order, which stated in part:

"The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them, becomes that between employer and hired labor. The Freedmen are advised to remain at their present homes, and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts; and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere."

Today June 19 is celebrated in 47 of 50 US states as Juneteenth, the day when slavery in America ended, and many campaign for it to become a national holiday with federal recognition.

Document Info


Author(s): US Government
Location signed: Galveston, Texas, USA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • 1865-06-19 Union General Gordon Granger declares slaves are free in Texas, now the date the end of slavery is celebrated across the US as Juneteenth

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