Two years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Galveston slaves were liberated on June 19, 1865. The emancipation of American slaves is now a holiday in 45 states. This day is called Juneteenth.
How did this day succeed? See below; a brilliant story is waiting.
The story behind Juneteenth
A plan of freeing slaves was issued
Confederate victories in the summer of 1862 challenged the Union. Emancipating slaves could undermine the South’s labor base, Lincoln realized. He wanted to release rebel slaves to win North support. He awaited the Union’s victory. Northern armies stopped a Confederate invasion at Antietam in September.
Soon after, Lincoln made a solid request to the Confederate states: either join the Union by the end of the year, or their slaves would be set free. This strong statement changed the primary goal of the Civil War from just bringing the country back together to ending slavery.
Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation
At the beginning of 1863, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This was a significant order that freed all slaves in Confederate states. At first, the ruling only affected people in Confederate territory. However, it gave thousands of black refugees living in Union-held forts in the South a new sense of hope. These people were happy to have their freedom back.
But slaves in Texas still increased
Despite President Lincoln’s proclamation, the lives of numerous enslaved individuals remained unchanged. This was especially evident in secluded regions like Galveston, Texas. As the war unfolded, plantation owners and slaveholders sought refuge in Texas to evade the conflict. Because of this, the number of slaves in Texas skyrocketed, going from about 1,000 people in Galveston and Houston in 1860 to over 250,000 people in the whole state in 1865.
Emancipation delayed for over two years in Texas
News from distant conflict zones and lively eastern cities took time to reach Galveston. The reasons behind the Galveston slaves’ two-year emancipation delay are unknown. Speculation arises regarding a messenger who was dispatched but met with an untimely demise. There’s also a chance that slave owners purposely hid this information to keep taking advantage of their slaves. Some people also think that federal forces put off the announcement so that more cotton could be harvested.
The emancipation of all the slaves was declared
In May, despite the war having ended in early April, the news hadn’t reached Texas. On June 19, 1865, Union General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston to assume state control on behalf of the federal government. Standing on the balcony of Ashton Villa, a notable brick building, Granger declared the emancipation of the slaves. He informed the people of Texas that all slaves were free, with equal personal and property rights. People told the former slave owners and slaves to establish an employer-employee relationship. Freed slaves were pushed to work for pay and stay at home peacefully.
Juneteenth became an official state holiday, finally
In 1980, Texas made Juneteenth an official state holiday; in 1997, the U.S. Congress did the same. Today, 45 states and the District of Columbia celebrate Juneteenth as a state or official holiday. It has gotten a lot of praise and support, and places like the Henry Ford Museum and the Smithsonian have held special events to celebrate Juneteenth and remember its history.
Juneteenth was officially recognized as a federal holiday in 2021
In recent years, there has been a growing movement to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday in the United States. Juneteenth became a federal holiday when President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law on June 17, 2021. Juneteenth is the 12th federal holiday in the United States.
The Significance of Juneteenth
Juneteenth is a significant milestone in American history, representing the end of legal slavery in the United States. It has become a day to celebrate freedom, African American culture, and successes and a time to think about the fight for racial equality and how far we’ve come. People enjoy the holiday in many ways, such as parades, music, dancing, picnics, historical reenactments, educational events, and community meetings.
FAQs About Juneteenth
What Is the Difference Between Juneteenth and Independence Day?
Juneteenth and Independence Day are significant holidays in the United States, but they commemorate different events and hold distinct meanings. June 19 marks the emancipation of African-American slaves following the American Civil War. It symbolizes freedom, equality, and the ongoing fight against racial injustice. On the other hand, Independence Day, observed on July 4, commemorates the nation’s declaration of independence from British rule in 1776. It signifies the United States’ creation as an independent nation.
Why Is It Called Juneteenth?
The name “Juneteenth” comes from the words “June” and “nineteenth.” It marks June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers came to Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of slavery, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. This critical historical event shows how free and robust African-Americans were. It also tells us that the fight for equality and justice continues.
What Special Things Can You Do on June 19?
Besides parades, music, dancing, and picnics, one special thing you can do to celebrate Juneteenth is to use Black Heritage Stamps as much as possible. Whether you send mail, postcards, or letters, stick one Black Heritage Stamp on the coating of the item. You show how you deeply express your tribute and memory. Such an act can also touch the recipient and spread joy.
(Click the image to order the Black Heritage Stamp now!)