Today in 1865 Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and issued General Order Number 3, which read in part, "The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free." This was the first news of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued on January 1, 1863 to reach Texas. The approximately 250,00 slaves learned of their freedom over the next few months as plantation owners informed their bondsmen of the news.
The first Juneteenth celebrations were political functions used to educate freed African American about their voting rights. Shortly they came to become festivities throughout the state, organized by official Juneteenth committees in some parts of the state. In Austin Juneteenth was first celebrated in 1867 organized by the Freedmen's Bureau, by 1872 it was listed on the calendar of public events. These celebrations often are a time of family reunions and the family history during slavery and since are recalled. While originally an event only found in Texas as families have moved to other states the Juneteenth celebrations have traveled with them.
To see the Emancipation Proclamation and learn more about it visit:
To learn more about Juneteenth visit the Handbook of Texas Online at: