Warm Southern Breeze

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Celebrating Freedom On Juneteenth

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Monday, June 22, 2020

On June 19, 1865, U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger, along with his command, arrived in Galveston, in the then-District of Texas, he issued General Orders No. 3, and that day read aloud the following:

“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 personal 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.”

This past Friday, 19 June 2020, marked the 155th anniversary of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated in 46 states, and the District of Columbia, commemorating the abolition of slavery which occurs annually on June 19.

The date actually refers not to the end of legal slavery in the United States, but to the gap in time after the Emancipation Proclamation, and refers to the date the U.S. Army’s Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, in the then-District of Texas and made an official proclamation of the news that Lincoln had freed slaves in the 10 secessionist rebel Confederate states through the Emancipation Proclamation (EP).

The EP was not applicable to the four border slave states that were not in rebellion – Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri.

To be certain, as a societal evil, slavery was and remains despicably abhorrent, and had long been practiced by humanity throughout history. Efforts to eradicate slavery in the United States were fraught with legal difficulties, most which seriously complicated matters, and placed the status of the newly emerging and growing nation known as the United States in perilous jeopardy.

A statue depicts a man holding the state law that made Juneteenth a state holiday is shown Wednesday, June 17, 2020, in Galveston, Texas. The inscription on the statue reads “On June 19, 1865, at the close of the Civil War, U.S. Army General Gordon Granger issued an order in Galveston stating that the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation was in effect. That event, later known as “Juneteenth,” marked the end of slavery in Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

An interesting feature, is the date and timing of General Orders No. 3, which reinforced, and supported the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Emancipation Proclamation – also known as “Proclamation 95” – was initially issued by President Abraham Lincoln September 22, 1862, and was set to become effective January 1, 1863 if certain conditions were not met by the secessionist rebel Confederate states, and declared in part that “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

In other words, the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to slaves in the Southern secessionist, Confederate “slave” states of Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Georgia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. It was not applicable to the Northern, Union “non-slave” states – even though slavery was still ongoing in those states, nor was it applicable in the “border” slave states of Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, after 1863, the new state of West Virginia. That’s because in the 10 secessionist rebel, Confederate states which were practicing insurrection, because of their rebellion, those states’ and local civil laws were not applicable, and as Commander in Chief of the United States armed forces, Lincoln was able to enact and enforce martial law in those states where the Union Army had defeated Confederate rebel forces, and did so. Thus, the the Emancipation Proclamation was an integral part of the overall legal effort.

Issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation was in two parts.

The first part was on September 22, 1862 when Lincoln issued a 100-day warning that he intended to make a proclamation freeing the slaves in rebel Confederate states, and stated a deadline of January 1, 1863 for states in rebellion to return to federal control and permanently free their slaves.

If they did not, he would officially issue the proclamation – the second part.

It also marked a turning point in the war, and reinforced the idea that the “states’ rights” argument FOR slavery was the very essence of the matter, rather than the mere principle of states’ rights itself which was clearly delineated in the United States Constitution. As well, after Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, it served to reinforce the United States’ relationship with European nations, notably France and England, which had both long opposed slavery and outlawed such practice.

In essence, what the proclamation did, was to provide for the emancipation of slaves who were able to escape the control of the Southern Confederacy – typically by running away into the North, but also through the advance of Union troops into Confederate territory – thereupon the slave was considered to be permanently freed. (It’s much the same principle for Cuban refugees – if they’re able to set foot upon American shores, they’re considered free.) The EP did not outlaw slavery. Those slaves who were not in slave states were freed by state action, or later through the 13th Amendment which did outlaw slavery, was passed by the Senate April 8, 1864, by the House on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the requisite number of states (27 of the 36 states at the time – 3/4 as required by the U.S. Constitution) with Georgia’s vote of approval on December 6, 1865.


March 4, 1861 – Abraham Lincoln Inaugurated President
April 12, 1861 – Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard attacked United States Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina

September 22, 1862 – Issuance of Emancipation Proclamation forewarned

January 1, 1863 – Emancipation Proclamation Signed and Effective
August 8, 1863 – VP Andrew Johnson freed his slaves
November 19, 1863 – Lincoln delivers Gettysburg Address

April 8, 1864 – 13th Amendment Passed the Senate
November 8, 1864 – Lincoln Re-elected

January 31, 1865 – 13th Amendment Passed the House
April 9, 1865 – Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to United States Army General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox County Courthouse, Virginia
April 15, 1865 – Lincoln Assassinated, VP Andrew Johnson Sworn in as President
June 19, 1865 – US Army General Gordon Granger issued General Order #3 (Juneteenth) at Galveston, District of Texas
December 6, 1865 – 13th Amendment Ratified by 3/4 of States (27/36)

Despite the end of hostilities, and Lincoln’s issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in the 10 secessionist rebel Confederate states where martial law had been imposed, there were small pockets of hold-outs where slavery was still in effect. One such area was in the District of Texas. Exactly why or how Galveston’s wealthy slaveholders feigned ignorance of the war’s end and its disposition, is a matter of conjecture, though claims of ignorance are largely refuted through evidence from newspapers and telegraph.

Archives of The Galveston Daily News, and a dispatch from New Orleans detailed the end of the war and the return of Confederate prisoners show a publication date of June 3, 1865 – over two weeks before Granger arrived.

Professor Noliwe Rooks, PhD, Director of American studies and Professor of Africana studies at Cornell University, said the delayed end to slavery was fueled by greed.

“The idea that people in that part of Texas had no idea that the war was over is farcical, quite frankly. There were wire services, there were newspapers … the larger plantation owners were very wealthy, and wealthy people have access to information. They were brutal people, but they were the ruling class in the United States. They were elite, many were wealthy, they were not illiterate or backwards. They were brutal and inhuman, but not ignorant.”

Ultimately, of course, the victory of the Union forces (Northern, or United States) over the Confederacy (Southern, or rebel forces) through the South’s surrender at Appomattox County Courthouse, Virginia – Lee surrendering to Grant on April 9, 1865 – brought an official end to hostilities, and according to the terms of surrender which were drawn up by General Lee, and agreed to by General Grant, the Confederates were spared from trial or punishment for treason, as long as they relinquished their long guns (rifles), were allowed to keep their side arms (pistols) and their private livestock (horses & mules) for planting and crop management, and continued to abide by the laws of their respective residences.

From the date the first artillery shots were commanded to be fired by Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard upon Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday, April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m. for 34 continuous hours, until Sunday, April 9, 1865, about 3:45 p.m. – the nation had suffered 3 years, 11 months, 29 days of bloodshed, death, destruction, turmoil, and unabated chaos which was long known as The War Between The States, officially as “The War of the Rebellion,” or simply as The Rebellion. It was only much later that it became known as the Civil War.

While Juneteenth is widely celebrated as a day of emancipation – and justifiably so – however, little-mentioned is the fact that when Lincoln formally signed the Emancipation Proclamation the following January, he did not actually free any of the approximately 4 million men, women and children held as slaves in the United States. That’s because the document applied only to those enslaved in the Confederacy, and was not applicable to those in the Northern and border states which remained loyal to the Union.

The Emancipation Proclamation was almost exclusively a military statement applicable to areas under martial law by the United States Army, and was significantly reflective of Lincoln’s change of thinking about slavery.

In an editorial published in the Daily National Intelligencer August 1862, Lincoln wrote in part that,

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

As the War Between the States (aka the “Civil War“) dragged on, the tenets upon which fighting was premised changed from preservation of the national union, to one of ending slavery, and therefrom, establishing an unmistakable and certain course of action to reunite and reorganize the nation following its fractious, often-criminally-perpetrated, division.

Then, as now, and as is often the case worldwide, unscrupulous opportunistic criminal types sought to use the chaos of war as a means to their own private criminal ends, and Southern Confederate sympathizers were no different in that sense.

Iconic names romanticized by Hollywood story-telling which include:
Butch Cassidy
and the
Sundance Kid,
Henry “Billy the Kid” McCarty,
Cole Younger
and the
Younger Brothers gang,
and Jesse James,
William T. “Bloody Bill” Anderson
and others
– all about whom I’ve written –
were every one confirmed, hardened criminals, rapists, robbers, and murderers
terrorists, as we would call them today
and all who at one time, or another,
collaborated with Confederatesas guerrilla fighters,
though such episodes of cooperation were brief,
and driven largely by criminal self-interests.

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