Terry Pierson, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG via Getty Images
Juneteenth—also known as Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, or the country’s second Independence Day—stands as an enduring symbol of Black American freedom.
When Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger and fellow federal soldiers arrived in Galveston, a coastal town on Texas’ Galveston Island, on June 19, 1865, it was to issue orders for the emancipation of enslaved people throughout the state.
Although telegraph messages had shared news of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and while the war had been settled in the Union’s favor since April of 1865, Granger’s message was a promise of accountability. There was now a large enough coalition to enforce the end of slavery and overwhelm the Texas Conferedate constitution, which forbade individuals’ release from bondage.
In that way, Texas became the last Confederate state to end slavery in the U.S.
Though celebrated for hundreds of years in parts of the U.S., Juneteenth’s history and significance only recently scaled for a massive national audience and inflection point. The historic date was not recognized as a federal holiday until 2021—more than a century and a half after it took place.
Stacker explored the history and significance of Juneteenth by examining historical documentation including texts for General Order #3 and the Emancipation Proclamation. Stacker also researched the lasting significance of this historic day while clearing up some of the most egregious misinformation about it.
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