that began in Texas, marking the end of slavery in that state on June
The North defeated the South on April 9, 1865, which ended the Civil
War. According to President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation,
which went into effect on January 1, 1863, all slaves in the states
of rebellion at that time were free. Consequently, with the end of
the Civil War and the defeat of the South, slavery should have ended
throughout the United States at that time. This, however, was
not the case in Texas. It was not until June 19, 1865, when
Union Major General Gordon Granger read General Order #3 to the people
of Galveston which stated:
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."
Then, so that
the freedom of former slaves would not be challenged, in December,
1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was
ratified on December 6, 1865. It stated:
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.
Yet, for former
slaves in Texas, June 19, "Juneteenth," rather than the
Thirteenth Amendment symbolized the end of slavery and the beginning
of freedom. Consequently, beginning in Reconstruction, emancipated
slaves in Texas launched "emancipation day" celebrations
on June 19; although, the first celebration in Austin, the state capital,
that was held in 1867 was sponsored by the Freedman's Bureau. As the
celebrations expanded in Texas, blacks purchased land that was used
as parks to hold the Juneteenth celebrations. Before the end of the
Nineteenth century, African Americans in adjacent states, such as
Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma also began holding "emancipation
day celebrations, which expanded to other states, such as Alabama,
Florida, and California, reflecting to a great extent the migration
of Texas blacks.
The World War II era through the Civil Rights era marked a decline
in Juneteenth Day celebrations. Beginning in the mid-1970s, however,
interest in reviving the celebration began. In Texas a bill was passed
in 1979 that officially established June 19 as a legal state holiday
to be known officially as "Emancipation Day," The
law went into effect January 1, 1980. Since that time, Juneteenth
celebrations have increased in numbers throughout the United States.
The bill that established
Juneteenth "Emancipation Day" as an official state holiday
was submitted by Representative Al Edwards (Houston,) and sponsored
by Senator Chet Brooks (Pasadena).
The bill was officially entitled, House Bill 1016, 66th Legislature
Regular Session, Chapter 481, and stated:.
relating to a declaration of Emancipation Day in Texas as a legal
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Article 4591, Revised Civil Statutes of Texas,
1925, as amended, is amended to read as follows:
Art. 4591. ENUMERATION. The first day of January, the 19th day of
January, the third Monday in February, the second day of March, the
21st day of April, the last Monday in May, the 19th day of June, the
fourth day of July, the 27th day of August, the first Monday in September,
the second Monday in October, the 11th day of November, the fourth
Thursday in November, and the 25th day of December, of each year,
and every day on which an election is held throughout the state, are
declared legal holidays, on which all public offices of the state
may be closed and shall be considered and treated as Sunday for all
purposes regarding the presenting for the payment or acceptance and
of protesting for and giving notice of the dishonor of bills of exchange,
bank checks and promissory notes placed by law upon the footing of
bills of exchange.
The nineteenth day of January shall be known as "Confederate
Heroes Day" in honor of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and other
The 19th day of June is designated "Emancipation Day in Texas"
in honor of the emancipation of the slaves in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Signed by Governor William
Clements June 7, 1979; effective January 1, 1980.
By the end of
2000 African Americans in more than thirty states had initiated programs
and festivities in celebration of Juneteenth Day
State Library and Archives
Church and Juneteenth
Randolph B. Campbell, "The End of Slavery in Texas: A Research
Note," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 88 (July 1984).
Juneteenth: A Novel (New York: Random House, 1999).
William H. Wiggins,
Jr., O Freedom! Afro-American Emancipation Celebrations (Knoxville:
University of Tennessee Press, 1987).
Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at
Children's Books (http://www.chumpchange.com/Juneteenth/Bibliography.htm)