June 19!

Today we celebrate Juneteenth on this hundred and fifty-eighth anniversary of the end of slavery in America.

On June 19, 1865, the Union Army rode into Galveston, Texas, and began posting an announcement in public places that all slaves were free.

Texas was the last confederate state to be defeated and the last safe haven for slave owners to fall.

Two and a half years earlier America was in the middle of its bloodiest war. On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, announcing that all slaves would be freed on the coming new year. On January 1, 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation as an executive order, proclaiming, “…all persons held as slaves… henceforward shall be free.”

April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was assassinated while attending a play at a theater in Washington, D.C.. He didn’t live to see the last remnants of slavery fall.

As the Union Army forced the surrender of one confederate general after another, many slave owners headed west for wild open land far from Union control. Texas became the last stronghold for the rebels.

On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston. He issued an order that read, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”

It wasn’t quite over yet. Some slave owners held out until the Union showed up on their doorstep. But Juneteenth was the day slavery became illegal in the South. A day that will hold special meaning for the rest of time.

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