Why June 19, 1865 marks the end of slavery in America, nearly two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
What to know about the 12th federal holiday – signed into law this week.
- 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.
- 1862: Emancipation Proclamation
- 1865: 13th Amendment
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.
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 and 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 and 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 and hired labor…”
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger (June 19, 1865). African Americans began celebrating Emancipation Day on June 19, 1866. In 1980, Texas became the first state to celebrate it.
Juneteenth has risen in national prominence in recent years amid a reignited conversation about race in America.
This week, Congress voted to make it a federal holiday and Pres. Biden signed the bill into law, making Juneteenth National Independence Day. the 12th federal holiday, and the first created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.
by Jenna Lee,