April 2, 2021
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June 19, 1865


Why today marks the end of U.S. slavery, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Historical Context

  • 1619: Commonly marked as the start of the African slave trade in the colonies.
  • By 1690, slaves existed in every colony.
  • By 1804, all the Northern states voted to abolish slavery, but slavery persisted in the North well into the 19th century since many laws took a gradual approach.
  • In 1861, the Civil War began.

Emancipation Proclamation

Sept. 1862: Pres. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which states “all persons held as slaves… henceforward shall be free.”

  • Declared slaves free *in rebelling Confederate states* & allowed them to join the U.S. military, effective Jan. 1863.
  • The 10 states weren’t under Union control, so it couldn’t be enforced.

13th Amendment

Jan. 1865: Congress passed the 13th Amendment, which states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude… shall exist within the United States.”

  • Officially abolished slavery in the U.S.
  • Adopted in Dec. 1865 after the required three-fourths of the states ratified it.
  • Did You Know? Due to a clerical error, Mississippi didn’t ratify the 13th Amendment until 2013.

June 19, 1865

  • Two months after the end of the Civil War, a Union general & troops arrived in Galveston, TX to notify slaves of the end of slavery and the Civil War.
  • Although it was 2-1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, slavery persisted in Texas & other Southern states.
  • Slavery in the U.S. didn’t end swiftly, but June 19 is observed as its official end, also known as “Emancipation Day.”

“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 & hired labor…”

Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger (June 19, 1865)

From Texas & Beyond

  • African-Americans began celebrating Emancipation Day on June 19, 1866.
  • In 1980, Texas became the first state to celebrate Juneteenth as a state holiday.
  • Today it is not a federal holiday, but at least 45 states & DC observe it. It’s a paid holiday for NY state workers.
  • Many businesses are also celebrating this year. Ex: Twitter, Nike and the NFL are giving their employees a paid holiday, and Chase will close early.

Juneteenth has risen in national prominence this year amid a reignited conversation about race in America that has sparked both fervent civil discourse and unrest. Pres. Trump rescheduled a June 19 campaign rally in Tulsa, OK (the site of a historic 1921 race massacre) to June 20 because the rally fell on Juneteenth.

The Emancipation Proclamation: CLICK HERE

Good resource for kids (and adults) – A COLORING BOOK on the Emancipation Proclamation: CLICK HERE

Texas State Library Info on Juneteenth (solid additional historical links) CLICK HERE

by Jenna Lee,