Today is June 19, also referred to as Juneteenth. I see Juneteenth as a peculiar chapter in US history about that peculiar institution of slavery. For those unfamiliar with Juneteeth, let me give you some background. President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery on January 1, 1863. However, it seems that the folks in Galveston, Texas “didn’t get that memo!” until June 19, 1865 (two and half years after slavery ended). The “news” was delivered on June 19, 1865 by Major General Gordon Granger and the Union troops sent to ‘enforce the Proclamation.’ Hence “Juneteenth”
How is it that Texas missed the news? Historians have offered a variety of answers. I have listed some of those explanations and added my own insights. According to the ‘historians”
1) The war didn’t formally end in the South until Lee surrendered in April, 1865 so the news arrived on time.
2) there were not enough Union Troops to enforce the Proclamation
3) The slave owners KNEW but decided to keep the news a secret (aka
‘on the down low’) because the slaves didn’t want slavery to end, they just
wouldn’t be able to adjust to freedom!!!
4) M-O-N-E-Y! The slave owners wanted to continue reaping the benefits of the plantation system. And there were folks who didn’t own slaves but profited from the slave economy….investors, lawyers, insurance companies banks and government officials in the North as well as the South.
5) The Union military waited so that the slave owners could get in one last cotton harvest. I am thinking the government including Lincoln secretly agreed to delay the news of the Proclamation as show of sympathy to ease their Southern brethren’s transition, as well for political and economic reasons (See above). This explanation would also involve some complex models regarding time. Let me introduce my Military/Government/Lincoln time model: one year government/military time = 2.5 years civilian time.
6) “They” shot the messenger. No really, some historians say the messenger was murdered while in transit to deliver the news. In crime lingo…cold cold case!
Let me add a few more old standby excuses:
The letter go lost in the mail!!
The dog ate it!
The list of excuse is endless…
Denial cost more than you think
Janet Cormier is a painter, writes prose and poetry, and performs comedy. JC prefers different and original over pretty. She loves collecting stuff, but cleaning not so much. Janet also talks to strangers… a lot.