Today in History: June 19, 1862. Slavery is Outlawed in the U.S. territories

Archived Photo (Getty Images)

On June 19, 1862, Congress prohibited slavery in all current and future United States territories (though not in the states), and President Lincoln quickly signed the legislation.

Law Enacting Emancipation in the Federal Territories:
An Act to secure Freedom to all Persons within the Territories of the United States.

The law stated: ‘Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.’


Juneteenth (June 19, 1865) is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. It began as a Texas state holiday but is now celebrated annually on the 19th of June throughout the United States to commemorate Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in the city of Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, proclaiming that all slaves in Texas were now free.

June 19, 1863, marks the day on which the end of slavery within the United States was commemorated. Although this date is commonly thought of as celebrating the end of slavery in the United States, it was still legal and practiced in two Union border states (Delaware and Kentucky) until December 6, 1865, when ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery nationwide. The Thirteenth Amendment (Amendment XIII) to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *