National Archives To Display Emancipation Proclamation and ‘Juneteenth’ General Order No. 3, June 18–20
Press Release · Wednesday, June 1, 2022
From June 18 to 20, 2022, the National Archives Museum will display the original Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3. Timed ticket entry is available but not required. Reserve a ticket at recreation.gov. The National Archives will host a special Juneteenth Family Day on Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Related programs include author book talks and a panel discussion with a musical performance.
The National Archives Museum in Washington, DC, is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. The Museum will be open for special extended hours of 10 a.m.–7 p.m. for the Juneteenth weekend, June 18, 19, and 20. Free admission and fully accessible. Metro: Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station. Reserve timed entry tickets on Recreation.gov.
Programs and the Emancipation Proclamation and General Order No. 3 Featured Document Presentation are 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.
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.
(Virtual Only) Book Talk – The Last Slave Ship: The True Story of How Clotilda Was Found, Her Descendants, and an Extraordinary Reckoning
Wednesday, June 15, at 1 p.m. ET
Register to attend online; watch on the National Archives YouTube Channel
Fifty years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed, the Clotilda became the last ship to bring enslaved Africans to the United States. The ship was scuttled and burned on arrival to hide evidence of the crime, allowing the wealthy perpetrators to escape prosecution. Despite numerous efforts to find the sunken wreck, Clotilda remained hidden for the next 160 years. But in 2019, author Ben Raines successfully concluded his obsessive quest through the swamps of Alabama to uncover this important historical artifact. Raines recounts the ship’s perilous journey, the story of its rediscovery, and its complex legacy. Against all odds, Africatown, the Alabama community founded by the captives of the Clotilda, prospered in the Jim Crow South. Clotilda is a ghost haunting three communities—the descendants of those transported into slavery, the descendants of their fellow Africans who sold them, and the descendants of their American enslavers.
(Virtual Only) Music Performance & Panel Discussion – Juneteenth: A Celebration
Friday, June 17, at 7 p.m. ET
Register in advance; watch on the National Archives YouTube Channel
In commemoration of Juneteenth, celebrating the liberation of enslaved people in the Confederate states, and in conjunction with the display of the original Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln, and General Order #3 (which transmitted the news of emancipation to the residents of the state of Texas), we join with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) for a discussion with a musical performance. Moderated by Dr. Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, professor of history at Howard University, the program will include Dr. Anton House, Delaware State University, and Don and Jocelyn Pinkard, members of the ASALH Dallas Branch. Violinist Gabrielle Clover will perform.
(In Person Only) Juneteenth Family Day
Saturday, June 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET
Boeing Learning Center, National Archives Museum
Celebrate Juneteenth—the annual holiday commemorating the end of legal slavery in the United States—with family-friendly art-making and activities at the National Archives Museum.
(Virtual Only) Book Talk – The Education of Betsey Stockton: An Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom
Wednesday, June 22, at 1 p.m. ET
Register in advance; watch on the National Archives YouTube Channel
Author Gregory Nobles will discuss the remarkable story of a Black woman’s journey from slavery to emancipation, from antebellum New Jersey to the Hawaiian Islands, and from her own self-education to a lifetime of teaching others. It’s a compelling chronicle of a critical time in American history and a testament to the courage and commitment of a woman whose persistence grew into a potent form of resistance. In this first book-length telling of Betsey Stockton’s story, Nobles illuminates both a woman and her world, following her around the globe and showing how a determined individual could challenge her society’s racial obstacles from the ground up. Joining the author in conversation will be Dr. David Latimore of the Betsey Stockton Center for Black Church Studies at the Princeton Theological Seminary.
Related Online Resources
- Find resources related to African American History at Archives.gov.
- Emancipation Proclamation and DC Emancipation Exhibits Celebrate Freedom National Archives News story
- National Archives Safeguards Original ‘Juneteenth’ General Order National Archives News story
- The ‘EP’ at the National Archives Pieces of History blog on the EP’s fabled history
- Visitors Get a Rare Opportunity to See the EP National Archives News story
- “The Meaning and Making of Emancipation,” a free National Archives eBook
- National Archives blog, Rediscovering Black History
- Records of the Freedmen’s Bureau, established by Congress to help former Black slaves and poor Whites in the South in the aftermath of the Civil War. Read an article about efforts to preserve and digitize this collection.
This page was last reviewed on June 1, 2022.
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