Updated: Jan 19
Whereas, on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the emancipation proclamation, setting in motion the end of slavery in the United States and
Whereas, it was not until June 19, 1865, hat it was announced to those still enslaved in Texas: "The people are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free" and
Whereas, celebration of the end slavery, which became known as Juneteenth, is the oldest known public celebration of the end of slavery in the United States and
Whereas, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and celebrates the successes gained through education and greater opportunity and
Whereas, on a larger scale, celebration of Juneteenth reminds each of us of the precious promises of freedom, equality, and opportunity which are at the core of the American Dream.
JUNETEENTH IS THE OLDEST KNOWN CELEBRATION COMMEMORATING THE ENDING OF SLAVERY IN THE UNITED STATES. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th. that the union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after Presidents Lincoln's EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION--which had become official January 1, 1863. The emancipation proclamation had little impact on Texans due to the minimal number of union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger's regiment, the forces were finally enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
Later attempts to explain this two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another, is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labour force on the plantations. And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the emancipation proclamation. All of which, or neither of these versions could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln's authority over the rebellious States was in question. For whatever reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.