Issued in Galveston on June 19, 1865, General Orders, No. 3 announced to the people of Texas that all slaves were free. It is one of the Island’s most important historical moments. Although Juneteenth has now become the basis for a national holiday, many Americans wonder how and why this date emerged as the basis for the oldest continually celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery. To even begin to answer these questions, it is necessary to return to the historic roots of the event itself.
Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee tracks Emancipation Day observances through previously unknown images and untold stories, which are also part of an interactive exhibit experience at Ashton Villa, the site of Galveston’s citywide Juneteenth celebration.