Juneteenth

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Juneteenth: The Celebration of African American Freedom I grew up in the "Land of Lincoln" in a rural town near Springfield, Illinois. It had always been common knowledge that it was on January 1, 1863 that Abraham Lincoln freed all slaves with his Emancipation Proclamation. Though, it had never occurred to me that this was not the case in Texas. It was not until June 19, 1865 when the Union General Gordon Granger arrived at Galveston, Texas with the good news. His first order of business in Galveston was to read the General Order Number 3 to the people of Texas freeing the last 250, 000 slaves, which read as follows: "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 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." (JUNETEENTH.com 1). Note that this was a whole two and a half years after Lincoln's abolition of slavery. No one can be truly certain why there was such a delay of the news. There are some ideas explaining the reason such as one of a messenger who had been killed on his journey to Texas bringing the news of freedom. Another is that the enslavers wanted to hold onto their labor force for their plantations so they purposely kept their mouths shut about the news. Or there was the idea that federal troops waited until the plantation owners could benefit from just one more cotton harvest (McPherson 61). More than anything, the cause would be due to such poor political socialization. Newspapers were only local at the time and there obviously was no television so it took a long time for the word to travel. Two and a half years is pretty extreme though, which is why there really isn't a good explanation for the delay. Still, everyone was completely shocked by what they had just heard. Immediately the freed slaves were fleeing from the plantations and many even headed to the North.

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