On June 19, 1865 Union Army General Gordon Granger, landed on the shores of Galveston, Texas and announced that, according to the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863, signed by President Abraham Lincoln, all slaves in states at war with the Union were free. However, for political and military reasons, the proclamation failed to include slaves being held in territory not at war with the United States. The Proclamation read as follows: “All enslaved person in the Confederate States of America in rebellion and not in Union hands were to be freed.” This excluded the states of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri as well as those counties of Virginia that remained in the Union, and eventually became the state of West Virginia. So, one can argue that the Proclamation did not free any of the slaves in this country since the laws of the United States were not recognized by those states, that had seceded from the Union to include Texas.
Because Texas was geographically isolated from most the country and especially where the rebellion was taken place, the Emancipation did not reach the Lone Star State until after the Civil War was over. It was on April 9, 1865 Robert E. Lee surrendered the last major Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant, at the Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. That happened two months before General Granger read the Proclamation in Galveston, Texas, and therefore it was not enforced in the state until after the Civil War ended. Granger arrived with two-thousand Union soldiers for the purpose of occupying Texas on behalf of the federal government. Standing on the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa and looking down at a large gathering of Blacks curious to learn more about their freedom, Granger read the following statement: “ 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 and 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 wagers. 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.”
Taken from thewritefred: https://thewriterfred.com/
Billy McCrea, a former slave who remembered the Union troops coming into Texas in 1865 and being told that he was free. Photo by Ruby Terrill Lomax, September 30, 1940.
Of all Emancipation Day observances, Juneteenth falls closest to the summer solstice (this Friday, June 21), the longest day of the year, when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those once shadowed by slavery. By choosing to celebrate the last place in the South that freedom touched — reflecting the mystical glow of history and lore, memory and myth, as Ralph Ellison evoked in his posthumous novel, Juneteenth — we remember the shining promise of emancipation, along with the bloody path America took by delaying it and deferring fulfillment of those simple, unanticipating words in Gen. Granger’s original order No. 3: that “This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.”
"Today, I will begin by telling you a lie. That lie is that on June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas finally learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This lie has been advanced in legislation, in the popular culture as an explanation for Juneteenth celebrations. This lie is predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Emancipation Proclamation and its enforcement. . . "