General Order No. 3 transmitted the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to the residents of the U.S. state of Texas and freed all remaining enslaved people in the state. The general order was issued by Union general Gordon Granger on June 19, 1865, at Ashton Villa upon arriving at Galveston, Texas, more than a month after the formal end of the American Civil War and two years after the original issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. The announcement and Granger's enforcement of the order is the central event commemorated by the holiday of Juneteenth, which originally celebrated the end of slavery in Texas.
While several contemporary printed versions of the order have long been known, the original handwritten official record was digitized and publicized by the National Archives and Records Administration on June 18, 2020. Not previously digitized, the document is physically located in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and maintained by the Textual Records Division. The text was recorded by the Assistant-Adjutant General, Major F.W. Emery in a bound record book of general orders issued by the army. It is cataloged as part of the National Archives' collection "Record Group 393: Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands".
The following is the text of the official recorded version of the order:
Head Quarters District of Texas
Galveston Texas June 19th 1865.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.
The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
By order of Major General Granger
Major A.A. Genl.
The text of the order was circulated and reprinted in many contemporary newspapers and other sources which have been preserved. One of the earliest was the Galveston Tri-Weekly News, which printed General Order No. 3 on June 20, 1865, the day after it was issued. On July 7, 1865, The New York Times printed a copy of General Order No. 3 among a series of other recent general orders issued by Granger, which it described as "interesting news from Texas" under the headline "THE SLAVES ALL FREE."
- Ruane, Michael E. "An original 'Juneteenth' order found in the National Archives". Washington Post. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- "National Archives Safeguards Original 'Juneteenth' General Order". National Archives. 2020-06-19. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- History, The Briscoe Center for American (1865-06-20). "General Orders, No.3 [Juneteenth Proclamation], detail". www.cah.utexas.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- "FROM TEXAS; Important Orders by General Granger. Surrender of Senator Johnson of Arkansas. A SOATTERING OF REBEL OFFICIALS". The New York Times. 1865-07-07. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
- National Archives catalog record: "General Orders Issued, 6/1865 - 7/1865," from Record Group 393: Records of U.S. Army Continental Commands, 1817 - 1947; created by War Department. Division of the Gulf. Department of Texas. (6/27/1865 - 8/6/1866).