Juneteenth is Coming!

June 19, 1865 is a special day in our history. It marks the day when slaves in the state of Texas were told that they had been freed. It is celebrated in Texas and in many other states. Another word for freed is emancipated. The day is called Juneteenth because it puts the words June and nineteenth together.

Does June 19, 1865 as the day when the slaves were freed sound strange to you? It should. An order had already been given on September 22, 1862 called the Emancipation Proclamation. That order said the slaves would be freed on January 1, 1863. President Abraham Lincoln gave that order. So why Juneteenth? Juneteenth was needed because the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t free anyone. The end of the Civil War on May 9, 1865 was when the slaves were freed and the slaves won the war. That is a topic for another day.

Unpaid Labor understands that this all sounds very complicated. Maybe an example might help. What if President Obama gave an order on June 19, 2016? What if that order said that all of the prisoners in Canada would be freed from prison on January 1, 2017. What would happen in Canada on January 1, 2017? Absolutely nothing! Why not? Because President Obama’s orders don’t mean anything in another country.

The Civil War was fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. They were 2 separate countries. When President Lincoln gave the order that the slaves would be freed on January 1, 1863 it talked about the slaves in the Confederate States of America-another country. It didn’t even apply to the country he was the president of. And so what happened? Absolutely nothing!

Get it? The Emancipation Proclamation freed no one. That was not its purpose. Its purpose was to mess up the ability of the Confederate States of America to fight. It encouraged slaves in the Confederate States to stop working. It encouraged slaves to join the United States Army to fight against the Confederate States. It stopped other countries from helping the Confederate States. What it didn’t do was to free the slaves. It meant that there would have to be a Juneteenth.