On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free — two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order.
However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
One of General Granger’s first orders of business was to read to the people of Texas, General Order Number 3 which began most significantly with:
“The people of Texas are in-formed 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 be-tween employer and hired laborer.”
The Fort Bend County Black Heritage Society hosted a Juneteenth celebration on Friday to commemorate the historic event.