As Juneteenth 2017 Approaches, Many Texans Commemorate 152 Years of Freedom

Bob Lemmons, born in San Antonio, living in Carrizo Springs August 1936

Monday marks 152 years of freedom in Texas. 

While Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, it wasn’t until June 19, 1865 that slaves were freed in Texas. This state was the last to liberate its people, and it all happened in Galveston.

(In the gallery above, see Texans who were formerly enslaved as they looked in the 1930s, decades after Juneteenth. President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program made this possible, when it commissioned writers to document their narratives.)

The order granting slaves their freedom was issued by  Union Gen. Gordon Granger on the island. Historians still dispute whether Granger announced the order while standing on the balcony of Ashton Villa or in a notice posted to his headquarters at The Strand and 22nd Street.

Gen. Granger’s General Orders No. 3. reads, 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 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 momentous day is especially significant because at one point, one-third of Texas’ population was enslaved, roughly 183,000 individuals. Slave-owners across the nation had transferred slaves to Texas, since they though it was a sanctuary. According to a historian, 125,000 slaves were transported to this state to avoid the federal decree.

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Source: Houston Chronicle / Darla Guillen