National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day is a holiday which is celebrated annually on February 1st in the United States. The purpose of this holiday is to not only honor the signing of the 13th amendment on February 1, 1865 – an amendment which outlawed slavery – but it is also a day in which all U.S citizens can celebrate the freedom they share with their fellow Americans. It is also a good day to reflect on the fact that the United States is a country that is dedicated to the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality and that all of us citizens should work towards those goals.

History of National Freedom Day

On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint congressional resolution proposing a 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment would abolish slavery in the U.S once and for all. However, while the President signed it on the 1st of February, it didn’t become actually become ratified until December 6, 1865. Still, some people believed that February 1st should convey some sort of commemoration to that important signing and one of those people was Richard R. Wright, a former slave who decided to lobby the U.S Congress to make the 1st of February National Freedom Day.

At the time the amendment was signed, Mr. Wright was a nine-year-old slave that was living in Georgia. After the Civil War ended, he was able to attend a freedmen’s school. He would then go on to become a veteran of the Spanish-American War, a banker, and a prominent teacher.

Unfortunately, his request for a National Freedom Day wouldn’t be instituted during his lifetime. It wasn’t until 1947, a year after his death, that the U.S Congress would pass a resolution making February 1st National Freedom Day. On June 30, 1948, President Harry S. Truman would sign this holiday proclamation into law.

Celebrating National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day is celebrated in a variety of different ways. According to 36 U.S. Code § 124, the President of the United States may issue a proclamation that designates February 1st as National Freedom Day to commemorate the signing of the 13th amendment by Abraham Lincoln on February 1, 1865. Each President can decide for themselves if they’re going to proclaim the holiday for that year. On this day, some people take time out of their busy schedules to honor freedom and equality. The day may also be celebrated with breakfasts or BBQs, movie screenings, book readings, and luncheons. In some areas, celebrations are observed with a fireworks display.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2023)
February 1 Wednesday
Next year (2024)
February 1 Thursday
Last year (2022)
February 1 Tuesday