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Two consecutive federal holidays — Juneteenth and Independence Day — highlight the sweep of American history, marking the birth of the nation on July 4, and, on June 19, the liberation of the last group of enslaved people in the U.S., at the end of a devastating civil war.

Independence Day commemorates the day in 1776 when the text of the Declaration of Independence was agreed upon by the Continental Congress. Juneteenth is a compression of “June Nineteenth,” the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas were finally freed with the arrival of the Union Army in Galveston, two months after the end of the Civil War and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

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