National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day is a holiday celebrated annually on February 1st in the United States. The purpose of this holiday is to honor the signing of the 13th Amendment on February 1, 1865—an amendment that outlawed slavery—and to celebrate the freedom shared among U.S. citizens. It is also a day to reflect on the fact that the United States is a country dedicated to the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality, and that all citizens should work towards those goals.

History of National Freedom Day

On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln signed a joint congressional resolution proposing the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which would abolish slavery in the U.S. once and for all. Although the President signed it on February 1st, it was not ratified until December 6, 1865. Nonetheless, some people believed that February 1st should be commemorated for that significant signing, one of whom was Richard R. Wright, a former slave who lobbied the U.S. Congress to make February 1st National Freedom Day.

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

Unfortunately, his request for a National Freedom Day was not instituted during his lifetime. It was not until 1947, a year after his death, that the U.S. Congress passed a resolution making February 1st National Freedom Day. On June 30, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed this holiday proclamation into law.

Celebrating National Freedom Day

National Freedom Day is celebrated in various ways. According to 36 U.S. Code § 124, the President of the United States may issue a proclamation designating 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 whether 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 include a fireworks display.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
February 1 Thursday
Next year (2025)
February 1 Saturday
Last year (2023)
February 1 Wednesday