Juneteenth National Independence Day is June 19
A Slow Process...
In 2021, Juneteenth National Independence Day was established as the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was adopted in 1983.
The end of slavery in the United States was a slow process that began with the Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863. This immediately made slavery illegal in states that had joined the Confederacy. The 13th Amendment, adopted in April of 1864, made all slavery illegal nationwide.
The Final Push
Enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment often relied upon the presence of Union troops. Remote states, like Texas, were more difficult to get to, and an increase in slave activity and a low Union troop presence meant that there was little or no enforcement there.
On the morning of June 19, 1865, General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas, took command of about 2,000 troops, and read General Order No. 3 before sending his personnel throughout the state to enforce it.
Juneteenth is the annual commemoration of this date — when the order was given that ultimately freed the last of the legally enslaved people in the United States (the last group of enslaved indigenous people were finally released later in 1866).
The Juneteenth flag is the symbol of a single event (now a federal holiday), Juneteenth.
The colors red, white, and blue are derived from the United States flag. The bursting star in the center is symbolic of freedom for people kept in slavery, and the arc between the colors red and blue represents the new horizon of opportunities for previously enslaved people that finally began on June 19th, 1865 – the date featured in the flag's design.
The Juneteenth flag is the symbol of an ongoing struggle for freedom that was heavily influenced by the Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment, and General Order No. 3 — each of which can be read below.
The Emancipation Proclamation (Proclamation 95)
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
The Thirteenth Amendment
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
General Order Number 3
Galveston Texas June 19th 1865.
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 quietly 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.
By order of Major General Granger
Major A.A. Genl.
Will You Be Observing Juneteenth?
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