The Real History of Juneteenth and the Reason It’s a Federal Holiday

“Freedom Day” Has Nothing to do With Freedom

William Spivey
7 min readJun 9, 2024


Greeting Card for Juneteenth

The premise for the Juneteenth holiday is to celebrate the date enslaved people in Texas found out they were free. On June 19, 1865, seventy-one days after the Civil War ended, Major General Gordon Granger rolled into Galveston, TX, with his army and announced that slavery was over. His announcement wasn’t based on the South losing the war but the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed Texas enslaved people, provided they made their way to a free state or territory. Granger was really telling the slaves that Abraham Lincoln had freed them two and a half years earlier.

“The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages.”

Juneteenth is being promoted as “Freedom Day.” But there’s a hitch: nobody was freed on Freedom Day; enslaved people were literally told to go back to their plantations and hope to extract wages from their former enslavers. Don’t come to the army bases or seek help from the government. Slaves were told to proceed quietly, the 1865 equivalent of “shut up and dribble.”

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United…