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Emancipation Day in the United States

Residents of Ohio commemorate the abolishment of slavery on Emancipation Day, which falls on September 22. Some other states have similar celebrations, but they fall on different dates.

Is Emancipation Day a Public Holiday?

Emancipation Day is not a public holiday. It falls on Sunday, September 22, 2019 and most businesses follow regular Sunday opening hours in the United States.

The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.


What Do People Do?

Emancipation Day has been observed annually since 1863 in Gallia County in south-eastern Ohio, so this celebration is most widely known and usually attracts more than 2000 visitors from Ohio and the rest of the United States. Today's celebration includes concerts, historic re-enactments, food and a wide range of other activities.

Public Life

Emancipation Day is not a public holiday in Ohio, but it is a state-wide observation. Offices, banks, businesses and schools are normally open, although this may vary in some cases.


On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation, which required all states to abandon slavery within 100 days. It declared all slaves “thenceforth and forever more free”. The Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863.

The abolishment of slavery in the United States is celebrated on different dates in other parts of the country. For example, Texas commomorates the liberation of the last remaining slaves on Juneteenth, while residents of Washington DC celebrate Emancipation Day on April 16 each year, remembering the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act on April 16, 1862.

Emancipation Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010WedSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2011ThuSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2012SatSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2013SunSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2014MonSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2015TueSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2016ThuSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2017FriSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2018SatSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2019SunSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio
2020TueSep 22Emancipation DayLocal observanceOhio

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