Press/Journalists

National Archives To Display Emancipation Proclamation and ‘Juneteenth’ General Order No. 3, November 19–21
Press Release · Thursday, November 4, 2021

Washington, DC

From November 19 to 21, 2021, the National Archives Museum will display the original Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3. Timed ticket entry is required, and tickets are limited. Reserve a ticket at recreation.gov. On November 19, at 1 p.m., ET, in conjunction with the display of the Emancipation Proclamation, author Michael Burlingame will discuss his newly released book The Black Man’s President.

The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The building is open (with limited capacity) 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. daily and is fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. Reserve required timed entry tickets on Recreation.gov

The Program and Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 Featured Document Presentation is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of The Boeing Company.

Featured Document Display: The original Emancipation Proclamation
East Rotunda Gallery
President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as the nation approached the third year of the Civil War. Lincoln's proclamation, which declared “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” was “a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing rebellion.” The Proclamation also declared the acceptance of Black men into military service. By the war’s end, almost 200,000 Black soldiers and sailors had fought for the Union and freedom. 

Despite its expansive wording, the Emancipation Proclamation was limited. The freedom it promised was dependent upon a Union victory in the war. It also only applied in 10 Confederate states, leaving more than half a million men, women, and children in bondage in parts of the Confederacy already under Northern control and in the loyal border states.

Nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation promised freedom and a new beginning for several million Americans and fundamentally transformed the character of the war. It recognized the moral force behind the Union cause and strengthened the Union both militarily and politically. As a milestone along the road to chattel slavery's final destruction, the Emancipation Proclamation has assumed a place among the great documents of the nation.
National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

Related Featured Document Display: ‘Juneteenth’ General Order No. 3
West Rotunda Gallery
The freedom promised in the Emancipation Proclamation was finally delivered to 250,000 people who remained enslaved in Texas two and a half years after President Lincoln’s historic proclamation and two months after Union victory in the Civil War. On June 19, 1865, U.S. Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3, which informed the people of Texas that all enslaved persons in the state were now free. This day has come to be known as Juneteenth, a combination of June and 19th. It is also called Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, and it is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Emancipation, however, was not a singular event in United States history. There were many emancipation days as enslaved people obtained their freedom in the decades spanning American independence through the Civil War. They were an important element of the abolition movement, which fought to end chattel slavery and liberate the millions held in bondage across the country. That goal was not fully realized until December 6, 1865, when the requisite number of states ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, legally ending slavery in the United States. 

While Juneteenth has been formally celebrated primarily by people in African American communities in Texas, nearly all states and the District of Columbia recognize Juneteenth as an official state holiday or observance. On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law establishing Juneteenth as a federal holiday.
National Archives, Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1817–1947

BOOK TALK: The Black Man’s President
Friday, November 19, 1 p.m., ET
Register to attend online. Watch the free program livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Author Michael Burlingame will discuss why Frederick Douglass called Abraham Lincoln “emphatically the black man’s president” as well as “the first who rose above the prejudice of his times and country.” This history of Lincoln’s personal connections with Black people over the course of his career reveals a side of the 16th President that, until now, has not been fully explored or understood. To justify that description, Douglass pointed not just to Lincoln's official acts and utterances, like the Emancipation Proclamation or the Second Inaugural Address, but also to the President’s own personal experiences with Black people. Referring to one of Lincoln’s White House visits, Douglass said: “In daring to invite a Negro to an audience at the White House, Mr. Lincoln was saying to the country: I am President of the black people as well as the white, and I mean to respect their rights and feelings as men and as citizens.” Joining the author in conversation will be author and historian James Oakes.
Presented in conjunction with the display of the Emancipation Proclamation in the East Rotunda Gallery, November 19–21. 

Related Programs

BOOK TALK: Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant's Search for Her Family’s Lasting Legacy
Tuesday, November 16, at 1 p.m., ET
Register to attend online. Watch the free program livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Gayle Jessup White, a Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings’s family, explores America’s racial reckoning through the prism of her ancestors—both the enslaver and the enslaved. She had long heard the stories passed down from her father’s family, that they were direct descendants of Thomas Jefferson—lore she firmly believed, though others did not. For four decades she researched her connection to Thomas Jefferson to confirm its truth once and for all, and discovered her family lore was correct. In Reclamation she chronicles her remarkable journey to definitively understand her heritage and reclaim it, and offers a compelling portrait of what it means to be a Black woman in America, to pursue the American dream, to reconcile the legacy of racism, and to ensure the nation lives up to the ideals advocated by her legendary ancestor. Author and historian Annette Gordon-Reed will join the author in conversation.

National Archives Comes Alive! Young Learners Program: Meet Frederick Douglass
Monday, November 15, at 11 a.m.
Watch the free program livestreamed on the National Archives YouTube channel.

Meet Frederick Douglass, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. Douglass escaped from slavery in 1838. He became an influential force in the abolition movement with his powerful speeches, including “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July,” and his antislavery newspaper, The North Star. Douglass continued to fight for rights of African Americans after slavery was abolished with the 13th Amendment. In 1889, Douglass was appointed U.S. Minister to Haiti. Douglass is portrayed by Phil Darius Wallace, actor, director, and writer. 

Related Online Resources

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