On January 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation proclaiming “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
There were a few problems with that:
- Lincoln did not free those persons held in slavery in NORTHERN states.
- At that time, Lincoln had no authority over the Confederate states, which considered themselves an independent nation.
- No one told the slaves in Texas.
So when the Confederate States lost the war and the Union government sent federal troops to occupy Texas, one of the first things Gen. Gordon Granger did when he landed in Galveston on June 19, 1865 (barely 2 months after the war ended) was to read the Emancipation Proclamation, belatedly bringing news of promised freedom to 250,000 slaves in Texas.
The event, now celebrated as “Juneteenth”, is a uniquely Texan holiday celebrated in many communities with ceremonies, picnics, and parades.