In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring that slaves in the Confederacy were free. The document reads in part:
That on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
But word of their emancipation didn't reach African Americans in Texas until June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger formally announced the news in Galveston, Texas, as follows:
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 rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.
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Advertisement, Dallas Express, June 12, 1920
Image courtesy of Chronicling America