Juneteenth is short for June 19th. Juneteenth is the oldest celebrated event of ending slavery in the United States. After the Emancipation Proclamation was signed on January 1, 1863, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1865 to take command of the state to ensure all enslaved people were freed.
The Emancipation Proclamation
On September 22, 1862, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It stated that all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union would be freed indefinitely by January 1, 1863.
All enslaved people weren’t free nationwide. The document only applied to enslaved people in the Confederate states, disregarding the border states that stayed loyal to the Union.
Although the document was issued for war purposes, the proclamation shifted Lincoln’s views on slavery.
His first inaugural address in 1861 expressed that he had “no intention to directly or indirectly interfere with slavery. At the time, however, seven Southern states had withdrawn from the Union, forming the Confederate States of America, which was one of the motives for the start of the Civil War.
The Confederate States of America included 11 states. Led by Jefferson Davis, the Confederacy aimed for credibility in their legitimacy in their desire to be a sovereign nation.
The Emancipation would change the purpose of the war from preserving the Union to ending slavery.
According to historical sources, Lincoln questioned slavery and considered it “immoral.”
In his speech in Peoria, Illinois, in 1854, he says, “If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal;’ and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of another,…”
Although Emancipation didn’t happen quickly, it took years for it to fully take its course as plantation owners withheld the news until after harvest season. As celebrations took place among the freed people, Juneteenth was born. By December, slavery in the U.S. was formally abolished with the adoption of the 13th Amendment.
The 13th Amendment notes: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
The Thirteenth Amendment complemented the Emancipation to end slavery throughout the United States. Through the Thirteenth Amendment, the Emancipation ended slavery throughout the United States.
The first Watch Night services took place on January 1, 1863. That night the enslaved and free congregated in churches and homes across the nation, awaiting the news that would change America forever.
At Midnight people rejoiced as all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared legally free.
Not everyone was thrilled about the news. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was in motion by 1863, it was not implemented in the Confederate states. The people who were enslaved in Texas wouldn’t be freed until June 19, 1865, The year about 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas.
The Soldiers announced that the enslaved black people in the state were free by executive order.
Union soldiers marched onto plantations in the south, reading the Emancipation Proclamation and spreading the wonderful news.
How To Celebrate Juneteenth?
There is no solidified way to celebrate the holiday; people celebrate in many different ways. Parades, music festivals, political events, cookouts, and parties have all taken place in celebration of the holiday.
In 1865, the freed in Texas organized the first annual celebration of Juneteenth; at the time, the day was called “Jubilee Day.”
Today Juneteenth celebrates African American freedom. Its growing popularity represents how far the nation has come to change.