Juneteenth! It’s the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery in the United States! On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger’s Union soldiers rode into Galveston, Texas with news the war had ended and that slaves were free—an announcement finally reaching the last slaves in the U.S. two years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. In 1864, when a delegation of African-American people of Baltimore presented a Bible to Abraham Lincoln, they said: “Mr. President, we present to you this copy of the Holy Scriptures, as a token of respect for your active participation in furtherance of the cause of the emancipation of our race.” Lincoln responded: “In regard to the great book, I can only say it is the best gift which God has ever given man.”
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