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National Freedom Day in the United States

National Freedom Day is an observance in the United States that honors the signing of a resolution that proposed the 13th amendment of the nation's constitution on February 1, 1865. Abraham Lincoln, who was the president at the time, signed the resolution to outlaw slavery. This anniversary is annually observed on February 1.

Is National Freedom Day a Public Holiday?

National Freedom Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

National Freedom Day remembers when Abraham Lincoln (image pictured above) signed a resolution for the United States Constitution's 13th amendment in order to abolish slavery.

©iStockphoto.com/Eric Foltz

What Do People Do?

Many people in the United States reflect on and remember the importance of freedom on National Freedom Day. The United States president may annually issue a proclamation on the day. Some educational institutions may incorporate themes relating to National Freedom Day as part of class discussion, readings, and other learning activities that explore the importance of the day and its history.

Information on local celebrations or events that center on National Freedom Day may be publicized prior to and on February 1. For some people, it is a time to promote good will, equality, and to appreciate freedom. Wreath-laying at the Liberty Bell has also been a tradition to mark National Freedom Day for many years. Other events include annual breakfasts, luncheons, musical entertainment, film screenings, and literature meetings that explore the theme about freedom.

Public Life

National Freedom Day is an observance but it is not a public holiday in the United States.

Background

National Freedom Day commemorates the date – February 1, 1865 – when Abraham Lincoln, who was the nation's president at the time, signed a joint resolution that proposed the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution. The amendment was made to outlaw slavery and was ratified on December 18, 1865.

Major Richard Robert Wright Senior, a former slave who founded the National Freedom Day Association, played a crucial role in creating the observance. Major Wright was deemed as a community leader in Philadelphia and was active in education, the media, business and politics. He hoped to see a day that would be dedicated to celebrating freedom for all Americans.

The first commemoration of such a day took place on February 1, 1942, although it was not made into law yet. A tradition of laying a wreath at Liberty Bell also began. On June 30, 1948, President Harry Truman signed a bill to proclaim February 1 as the first official National Freedom Day in the United States.

Symbols

National Freedom Day’s theme is about freedom for all Americans.  Wreath-laying at Liberty Bell, which symbolizes freedom or liberty, has also occurred on this day over the years.

National Freedom Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2015SunFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2016MonFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2017WedFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2018ThuFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2019FriFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2020SatFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2021MonFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2022TueFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2023WedFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2024ThuFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 
2025SatFeb 1National Freedom DayObservance 

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