Monday, June 19, 2023

Fun Fact About Juneteenth

The news today is all going on about how Juneteenth was the event that ended slavery in America.

That's wrong.

PBS got it wrong.

The Detroit Free Press quoting the AP has similarly got it wrong: 

Even The History Channel says it is so, and they're wrong, much as they are about aliens.   But, they have yet to claim the slaves were freed by aliens, so that's something.

Juneteenth is ahistorical as a national holiday, and not the actual end of slavery in the US that we seem set on pretending that it is.

While the event itself was laudatory, with Major General Gordon Granger on June 19 1865 proclaiming freedom for enslaved people in Galveston based on the emancipation proclamation, and telling the slave owners they were rather late in freeing their slaves and they better get to it posthaste. Which they did. It ended slavery in Texas (this was a good thing), but it did not end slavery in the USA.

Juneteenth took place on June 19, 1865.

Slavery however legally continued in Union states and actually only ended with the freeing of slaves under in Delaware and Kentucky when the Thirteenth Amendment finally ended slavery in December 18, 1865 - six months later, and the system of slavery based on race finally came to its end.

So we're celebrating the actual end of race-based slavery (again, that end is a good thing) in the US on the wrong day.  

But wait, there's more! 

To make it even more interesting, the 13th Amendment did not apply to slavery in the Indian lands where tribes had autonomy.  The Indians kept Black and other slaves until later treaties between the USA and these various tribes ended the practice. For some reason, the history of Indians having slaves including Black slaves even after the end of the Civil War doesn't get a lot of press.

Arguably, slavery itself continued as legal in the US until 1874, when the Padrone Act finally fully and properly banned it, but that mainly freed non-Black slaves who were being exploited at the time - the enslaved victims were mainly Italian and other immigrant children.

So, slavery, and the slavery of African-Americans in America did not end on Juneteenth except in Texas, and calling it the "Juneteenth National Independence Day" to celebrate an event in one state, as important as it was for that state, as slavery continued in the US after that date, is historically rather inaccurate.

I mean if we want to dumb history down and pretend Juneteenth ended race-based slavery in the US, then cool.

It's also useful as it assuages those, especially in the North who didn't learn that the emancipation proclamation did not free slaves in Union-held territory. Nor did they learn that yes, some Union states had slaves throughout the Civil War, and even kept them as slaves after the Civil War ended.  History is a bit more complicated than Union 100% good, Confederacy 100% bad - even as the Union was much better than the Confederacy on the whole. But the Union had some definite issues and complicated politics to deal with as well, and having some states in it continuing to hold slaves even after the Civil War is one of those issues we don't discuss much.

But, Juneteenth and its creation as a national holiday was an act of pandering, and the national holiday has been in practice since its establishment has been much more divisive rather than unifying.


B said...

Preach it, Brother.

The whole thing is just pandering to the uneducated the DNC types can show the poor uneducated blacks what "wunnerful" people they are...and point to it to show how much they are on the side of the black people without really heling them....and garner votes.

Beans said...

What is this truth thing you are talking about?

Yeah, the whole slavery thingy was very complicated, and so were the various abolitionist societies and groups. Some wanted 'free them here' and others wanted 'ship them back and free them' and others were much like modern sanctuary cities in 'free them and keep them down there.'

Then there are the slaves and free blacks that fought willingly for the Confederacy. And the depredations done by freed blacks in Union service.

Crazily complicated issues that can't be condensed into one day.

At the most, Juneteenth should be a Texas day. The end of the Civil War or the actual end of slavery or the enacting of the Padrone Act or the acknowledgement that the hordes of Scandinavian children brought over in the late 1800s, years after the Padrone Act was enacted, was default child slavery.

But then again, we'd also have to acknowledge sub-continent Indian caste slavery which did and does exist still in these United States, along with modern child slavery, sex slavery, illegal chatel slavery and all other forms of slavery that didn't and doesn't center around slaves of African origin, though there are still a number of those to be found in our new Afro-centric strongholds here in these United States.

Again, it's a rather complicated set of issues and circumstances.

Old NFO said...

How many died this year on June 19th???