In honor of the Juneteenth holiday this year, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, put a rare, signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation on display for the public through July 6.
"Few documents in all American history carry the weight of the Emancipation Proclamation," Melissa Coultas, acting executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum wrote in a statement. "We are proud to share it with the public and celebrate its connection to such a joyous holiday."
Lincoln signed the document freeing the slaves in America on Jan. 1, 1863, but it could not be enforced until Union troops took over the territory of the states of the Confederacy trying to secede.
It would take more than two years for the news to finally reach Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two months after the south surrendered, ending the Civil War, and the assassination of Lincoln that same month.
On the evening of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his massive army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the American Civil War on April 9, according to History.com.
When Union troops entered Galveston and announced the news the slaves were now freedmen, it was celebrated and became known as Juneteenth.
Last week, President Joe Biden signed a bipartisan bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The museum is also featuring a display next to the historic document that marks the history of Black Americans and their fight for citizenship with a timeline running from 1787 through today, the organization said.
That display, developed by the Juneteenth Inc. and the Illinois State Museum, will include slavery in the "supposedly free" state of Illinois, a riot that targeted Blacks in Lincoln's hometown of Springfield and the first Juneteenth celebration there.
The library hosts a collection of books, documents, photographs, artifacts, and art as well as some 12 million items reflecting all the aspects of Illinois history, the organization said.
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