Juneteenth was first celebrated in Texas on June 19, 1865. Though all enslaved people were declared free as of January 1, 1863, by President Lincoln in the Emancipation Proclamation, this “did not end slavery in the nation.” Furthermore, while General Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865, federal troops, led by Major General Gordon Granger, did not arrive in Galveston, Texas, until June 19, 1865. Granger issued General Order No. 3, informing the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. The 13th Amendment, ratified later that year, officially declared enslavement unconstitutional.
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act passed the Senate by unanimous consent on June 15, 2021, and the House on June 16, 2021, and was signed into law as Public Law 117-17, creating the Juneteenth Federal Holiday.