Press "Enter" to skip to content

National Archives Safeguards Original ‘Juneteenth’ General Order

 National Archives News |

On June 19, 1865, two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln’s historic Emancipation Proclamation, U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. Granger commanded the Headquarters District of Texas, and his troops had arrived in Galveston the previous day.

The official handwritten record of General Order No. 3, is preserved at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.

General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865. The order was written in a volume beginning on one page and continuing to the next. (RG 393, Part II, Entry 5543, District of Texas, General Orders Issued)  

General Order No. 3 states: 

“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 personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

General Order No. 3, issued by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, June 19, 1865

While the order was critical to expanding freedom to enslaved people, the racist language used in the last sentences foreshadowed that the fight for equal rights would continue. Visit the National Archive exhibit The Enduring Chronicle: Civil Rights Documents at the National Archives at Atlanta to review the “Early Gains and Losses” in the ongoing fight for Civil Rights.