GALVESTON, TX — Half a million people lived in Texas as slaves in the mid-19th century. You might think all slaves were freed the day Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862.
Well, it took a long time for the word to get to Texas.
Slaves in the Lone Star State were still hard at work, two-and-a-half years later, when Union General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston to formally occupy the state.
He read an order declaring that slaves were free on June 19, 1865 — the day we now call Juneteenth.
Even then, freedom didn’t happen right away. Some slave owners kept the news from African-Americans until federal agents arrived on their property.
A monument to the announcement of the end of slavery stands today in Galveston’s Ashton Villa.