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Juneteenth Picnic by Arthello Beck Jr. oil painting of black Americans having a picnic on anniversary of freedom from slavery Texas Silver Oak Art

History of the Juneteenth Holiday:

1862 September 22 - Republican President Abraham Lincoln gives the Emancipation Proclamation Address in Gettysburg, PA.

1863 January 1 - 3.5 million slaves held in the "Rebellion" Confederate States are now legally free, but since the Civil War is still ongoing, they are not recognized as free in the Confederate States.

1865 January 31- The 13th Amendment is signed by President Lincoln. This change ensures all 4 million slaves are free, including those in the Confederate states and the non-rebellion slaveholding states of Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Now, the only American slaves still held in captivity are those owned by holdout slaveowners and by certain Indian tribes. Most tribal chiefs declare their slaves free within a year.

1865 March 4 - Republican President Lincoln is sworn into his second term. As an act of peace, he chooses a new vice president during these dwindling days of the Civil War. Democrat Andrew Johnson becomes Lincoln's vice president. Tennessee native Johnson freed all his slaves back on August 8, 1863 and his slaves chose to remain as paid servants on his homestead property.

1865 April 9 - A month later, the American Civil War ends when Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.

1865 April 14 - 5 days after the end of the Civil War, President Lincoln is assassinated by Democrat actor John Wilkes Booth in the Ford Theater of Washington, DC. Andrew Johnson assumes the Presidency, then neglects to inform nor enforce the civil rights of the freed slaves.

1865 June 19 - Shortly after arriving to his post-war duty station in Texas, Major General Gordon Granger, who served in the Union Army during the war, writes & signs the US Army General Order #3. The reading of this Order in Galveston, Texas informed slaves who were still held in captivity that they were indeed free and had been free since January 1, 1863. This Order also let the entire community know the US Army was present and ready to enforce Lincoln's original Emancipation Proclamation.


Annually on June 19th, Jubilee-styled picnics and festivities are enjoyed, mainly in Texas amongst the descendants of former slaves. This friendly holiday is called Juneteenth.

President Johnson demoted Major General Granger two ranks to Colonel on July 28, 1866 and quietly reassigned him to the District of New Mexico where he continued to serve our Nation until his death in 1877.

Two more post-Civil War Constitutional changes came with the 14th & 15th Amendments. These two amendments granted citizenship and equal rights to all persons born in America. All men could now vote. However, these two Reconstruction Era Amendments were not signed until after Republican Ulysses S. Grant assumed the Presidency in 1869.

One final note: All female adult American citizens, regardless of skin color were not afforded the right to vote until the passage of the 19th Amendment by Democrat President Woodrow Wilson on August 26, 1920. Three months later, on November 2, 1920, American women voted in their first Presidential election. The result of the women's participation in their first election gave Republican Warren G. Harding a large Presidential victory.

Photo Credit: "Juneteenth Picnic" by Texan Artist Arthello Beck Jr.


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