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Juneteenth and the Constitution

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On June 19th, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were now free. President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had been issued over two years earlier, and the south had surrendered in April 1865, ending the Civil War. So why did it take so long for Texans to hear the news of their freedom? Why do we celebrate Juneteenth as Emancipation Day? And how did emancipation finally become a reality under the Constitution and throughout the nation?

We answer those questions and more on this week’s episode featuring Martha Jones, author of ‘Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All,’ and Lucas Morel, author of ‘Lincoln and the American Founding.’ Jones and Morel trace the story of the fight for freedom and equality in America from the Declaration of Independence through the founding of the country and the Constitution; the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation; the ratification of the 13th Amendment, and beyond. They also highlight some of the fascinating figures and movements that shaped Black American politics and history. Jeffrey Rosen hosts.

Questions or comments about the show? Email us at [email protected]

Additional resources and transcript available at constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/media-library.

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Juneteenth and the Constitution

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The Most Comprehensive Argument Why Juneteenth Should NOT be a Federal Holiday