BTW: Juneteenth didn’t End Slavery – Republicans Did.

On June 17, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act (P.L. 117-17) into law, making June 19th a Federal Holiday. On this day in 1865 a detachment of the Union Army under the command of Major General Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas and announced

General Order No. 3

General Order 3, 1865“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

Junteenth is celebrated as the day the last enslaved people in the Confederate States – a confederation of Democrat-controlled Southern States who began the Civil War in order to defend using humans as chattel to power their economy – were freed. (Although, some might argue it was because they felt they weren’t fairly represented in the 1860 Election, won by Republican Abraham Lincoln…but, I digress ;-) )

Did you know? The order applied to all Confederate States: Northern & Border States had been outlawing slavery since 1783 (Massachusetts) and while Delaware, New Jersey, and Kentucky still allowed slavery they did not condone it and would end it on December 18, 1865 (but see more below).

Republicans concerned a future Democrat president could use an Executive Order to oveturn Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, proposed the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution:

Constitution of the United States
Thirteenth Amendment

US Constitution - 13th Amendment
Section 1
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

With the Republicans having a majority in both the House and the Senate and in most of the Northern and Border States the 13th Amendment was legally certified on December 18, 1865.

Did you also know? 1866 was also the year of the first Civil Rights Act: The bill, proposed by Republicans, was passed by the Republican Congress but vetoed by Democrat President Andrew Jackson (who as Lincoln’s vice president inherited the job after Lincoln’s assassination in 1865). The veto was overridden by the Republican Congress and became law.

Unfortunately, slavery continued in the United States even after passage of the 13th Amendment: Not all states had ratified the Amendment, and the Native American Territories, which was an independent Nation didn’t abolish it until a new treaty was signed on June 14, 1866 – almost a year after the date we officially celebrate the “End of Slavery”.

So why do we celebrate June 19th as the “End of Slavery”?

•  Why don’t we celebrate February 18th, the day in 1688 when Francis Daniel Pastorius drafted the 1688 Germantown (Pennsylvania) Quaker Petition Against Slavery? (BTW: They issued another one in 1783)

•  Why don’t we celebrate January 1st, the day in 1862 when Republican President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, an Executive Order freeing all slaves?

•  Why don’t we celebrate December 18th, the day in 1865 when the 13th Amendment became the law of the land thanks to the predominantly Republican Northern and Border states?

•  Why don’t we celebrate June 14th, the day in 1866 when the Native Indian Nations signed a treaty with the USA to abolish slavery?

•  Why don’t we celebrate February 7th, the day in 2013 when Republicans in Mississippi gained a majority in the legislature and voted to finally approve the 13th Amendment?

It’s a Fact! The State of Delaware – Joe Biden’s home state – was one of the last states to ratify the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery: They waited until February 1901 (and, it was passed by Republicans). The only states which waited longer were Kentucky (1976, passed by Democrats) and Mississippi (2013, passed by Republicans).

Bottom Line? Feel free to celebrate Juneteenth any way you like, and be sure to thank a Republican (not a Democrat).

“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union…I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.”
  - President Abraham Lincoln, August 22, 1862, letter to Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune

Translation: Regardless of his personal views Lincoln’s first duty as President was to end the war legally and as soon as possible, because if you don’t have a “United States” then you can’t ensure all of her people are free.

Added Bonus! If you’ve read this far, thank you! Now why not take the Black Civil Rights pop quiz and discover which political party has done more to help people of color in the United States?

Thanks for Reading!

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