Message on the Observance of Juneteenth, 2003
I send greetings to those celebrating Juneteenth.
In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring "that all persons held as slaves" within the rebellious states "are, and henceforward shall be, free." This news reached slaves slowly as word was passed by Union soldiers and individual plantation owners. Almost two years later, on June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, to declare the end of the Civil War and the freedom of the slaves.
Juneteenth commemorates General Granger's announcement and provides an opportunity for people across America to celebrate the end of slavery and the joy of freedom. On this day, I encourage all citizens to learn more about the rich heritage of African Americans and their many contributions to our Nation. With knowledge and understanding, we will continue our efforts to ensure that our society provides the opportunity for every person, of every race, to realize the promise of America.
Laura joins me in sending our best wishes for a memorable celebration.
GEORGE W. BUSH
NOTE: An original was not available for verification of the content of this message.
George W. Bush, Message on the Observance of Juneteenth, 2003 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/215624