Celebrated on June 19, the day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States and is the oldest known celebration in the country to honor it.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, but Texas’s small Union presence meant slavery continued. Approximately 250,000 Texan slaves had no idea that they were free.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger of the Union army marched into Galveston, Texas.

He arrived with thousands of federal troops to deliver news that the Civil War had ended, and that slaves were now free.

“Emancipation Day in Texas” was first celebrated in 1980 as an official state holiday commemorating Juneteenth.

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