NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Today is Juneteenth the day our nation commemorates the de facto end of slavery in the United States.
It was on this day in 1865 when Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The war had actually ended in April, but that information wasn’t readily disseminated to African Americans.
Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, on January 1, 1863, it declared that “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” it only applied to states that had seceded and left slavery intact in border states like Texas and Southern states under Northern control.
When Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston with the news there were approximately 250,000 people still being held in slavery.
Granger delivered General Order No. 3, which said: “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 next year, the now-freed slaves in Galveston started celebrating Juneteenth.