Sunday, June 14, 2020

On the meaning of "Juneteenth"

One commenter on the Trump/Juneteenth/Carson matter wrote the following:

Carson...was "pleasantly surprised" by how much Trump knew about Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States."

He was surprised Trump knew anything at all. Note how Carson didn't detail what Trump knew about it.

June 19 became "Juneteenth" because on June 19, 1865, Union major general Gordon Granger informed residents of Galveston, Texas that slaves in Texas were free by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation, which had taken effect, in Texas, on January 1, 1863. The state of Texas, one of eleven states of the Confederacy, was the last Confederate state to fall, at least nominally, under control of Union forces, and thus ended slavery in the Confederate states, although not exactly by virtue of the Emancipation Proclamation.

The above commenter is wrong because Juneteenth does not mark the end of slavery in the United States.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. wrote

The Emancipation Proclamation itself, ending slavery in the Confederacy (at least on paper), had taken effect two-and-a-half years before [Juneteenth], and in the interim, close to 200,000 black men had enlisted


But even this is not correct. The Emancipation Proclamation mentions only ten of the eleven Confederate states, pointedly omitting the state of Tennessee. The Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in Tennessee. Separately, the Emancipation Proclamation also excluded certain parts of Louisiana and Virginia. Further, the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery in the border (slave) states of Missouri, Kentucky Maryland, and Delaware. [There was alavery in New Jersey, but that is a different story.]

By the time of Juneteenth 1865, slavery had been eliminated by state action in Missouri, Maryland, and Tennessee.

However, this technicality does not absolve the commentator (or others who believe the Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery) because slavery did not end in Kentucky and Delaware until the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment on December 18, 1865.

In fact, Delaware did not ratify the the 13th Amendment until 1901; Kentucky until 1976. Of interest, one notes both Civil War presidents, Lincoln and Davis, came from Kentucky.

In passing, one notes that the following map from


is in error:


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