The purpose of this holiday is to promote good feelings, harmony, and equal opportunity among all citizens and to remember that the United States is a nation dedicated to the ideal of freedom.
Major Richard Robert Wright Sr., a former slave, believed that there should be a day when freedom for all Americans is celebrated. While living in Philadelphia towards the end of his life, he invited local and national leaders to meet to organize a movement for a national holiday to commemorate Lincoln’s signing of the 13th Amendment. The resulting National Freedom Association proposed having a memorial date to call attention to the continuing struggle for freedom for African-Americans. Since President Lincoln had signed the 13th Amendment on the first day of February, that date was chosen to celebrate National Freedom Day.
National Freedom Day is a United States observance on February 1 honoring the signing by Abraham Lincoln of a joint House and Senate resolution that later became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. President Lincoln signed the Amendment outlawing slavery on February 1, 1865, although it was not ratified by the states until later.
The first commemoration took place on February 1, 1942, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As it has every year since, the remembrance included laying a wreath at the Liberty Bell. National Freedom Day’s federal authorization is cited at Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute as 36 USC § 124: "The President may issue each year a proclamation designating February 1 as National Freedom Day to commemorate the signing by Abraham Lincoln on February 1, 1865, of the joint resolution adopted by the Senate and the House of Representatives that proposed the 13th amendment to the Constitution."
Source: americaslibrary.gov | wikipedia.org | cornell.edu