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Happy belated Juneteenth, everybody!

Rebel Defenses of Galveston and Vicinity, Surveyed and Drawn by order of G. L. Gillespie, Brevet Major & Chief Engineer, Miliary Division of the Gulf, Under the Direction of Lt. S. E. McGregory, Comdg. Topl. Party, Oct. 1865. (Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 77-CWMF-Q111)

Rebel Defenses of Galveston and Vicinity, Surveyed and Drawn by order of G. L. Gillespie, Brevet Major & Chief Engineer, Miliary Division of the Gulf, Under the Direction of Lt. S. E. McGregory, Comdg. Topl. Party, Oct. 1865. (Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 77-CWMF-Q111)

Juneteenth is actually June 19, the day on which word finally made it to Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over and that Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves. As the story goes, these 250,000 slaves were the last to hear the good news.

It was Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger who read General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston:

“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.”

The day is now celebrated as the day of African American emancipation in many communities throughout the country, and even the President made a statement on last year’s Juneteenth, which was the 144th anniversary of the occasion. This year marked the 145th anniversary of the first Juneteenth. Thirty-six states now recognize the day.

June 19 is also a date of significance to the National Archives. Does anyone know why?

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Comments

Comment from Darlene McClurkin
Time June 21, 2010 at 11:13 am

Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the “National Archives Act” on June 19, 1934, establishing the National Archives. See http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/index.html?dod-date=619.