This past Thursday, President Joe Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, a federal holiday. The measure had passed unanimously in the Senate, and in the House by a vote of 415-14.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gordon Granger, a Union general, arrived in Galveston, Texas to inform enslaved African-Americans that the Civil War had ended and that they had been freed under the Emancipation Proclamation, which had been signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.
On arrival in Galveston, General Granger issued five written orders, but the highlight was Order No. 3, which included the words: “All slaves are free.”
The proclamation ended slavery only in states that had seceded from the Union in 1860-61; an end to slavery throughout the entire country (which in 1865 comprised 34 states) would not become law until December 1865, when the 13th Amendment was adopted into the Constitution.
As has also been true for the legalization of cannabis, states have been out in front of the federal government in celebrating Juneteenth. In 1979, thanks in large part to the efforts of state representative Al Edwards, Texas passed legislation making Juneteenth a holiday, and