Juneteenth

1012638_10200431770411645_402856556_nI know I’m late because today is the seventeenth, but … Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. In essence, Juneteenth marks what is arguably the most significant event in American history after independence itself—the eradication of American slavery. “In amazement and disbelief, the 250,000 former slaves in Texas learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, which could not be enforced until the war was over. (It applied only to the states “in rebellion” at the time it was issued.) Shocked, disoriented, most likely fearful of an uncertain future in which they could do as they pleased, the liberated slaves of Texas celebrated. Their moment of jubilee was spontaneous and ecstatic, and began a tradition of marking freedom on Juneteenth.”

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Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Juneteenth-Our-Other-Independence-Day.html#ixzz2WJHUGCjl
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