Juneteenth, also called Emancipation Day, or Freedom Day, is an annual celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States
It is observed annually on June 19 and its name is the linguistic blend of two words: June and nineteenth, a combination that is known as portmanteau word.
On June 19, 1865, African Americans in Texas learnt that the War between the States was over and that they had been freed from slavery.
President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation which declared “that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free”, two and a half years earlier, on January 1, 1863, but the news had not spread in Texas, which was the most remote of the slave states, with a low presence of Union troops.
Therefore, it was only when the Union soldiers, led by General Gordon Granger, arrived at Galveston, Texas that the residents finally learned that the war had ended and slavery had been abolished.
Approximately 250,000 Texan slaves, who did not know that their freedom had been secured by the government were jubilant to hear the news. They immediately began to celebrate with prayer meetings and by singing spirituals and wearing new clothes to represent their new freedom.
The order issued by Gen. Gordon Granger on that day was the following:
“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.” – “General Orders, Number 3” – Headquarters District of Texas, Galveston, June 19, 1865.