It was June 19th, 1865, in the early morning hours. As the sun began its ascent into the sky over the island of Galveston, Texas, Union General Gordon Granger took command of his allotment of 2000 troops. Today’s business was not another bloody battle, the troops were only a precaution in case the Democrats of Galveston became violent. Today he was in Galveston to deliver some news, news the Democrats in that city had withheld for 3 years. Marching through these streets, General Granger and his troops announced, “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free.”
This was the opening line of General Order #3, the document ordering the Union Army to free the last slaves being kept by the Democrats in Galveston Texas. This is indeed a historical event, although contrary to today’s popular hype, this was not the day the last African American Slaves were freed in America. Slaves were still kept in the states of Kentucky and Delaware until the ratification of the 13th Amendment, another document passed with 100% Support from Republicans and none from the Democrats. But that story isn’t as easily manipulated. And unfortunately, that is what we are seeing today, Democrats want to manipulate this important holiday and gloss over exactly what role they played in this country’s history.
But back to Galveston, and Texas in general. Despite this momentous occasion, Texas would remain a Democrat stronghold until the mid-20th Century, after Andrew Johnson prematurely ended Reconstruction in the state so he could hand power back to his fellow Democrats. Despite this setback, Republicans in Texas still managed to work towards Civil Rights and better lives for former Slaves, and Galveston would be one of the centers of those efforts. Galveston was the headquarters of the Freedmen’s Bureau, but it was also the center of the Republican civil rights efforts. As the Democrats took back the power with the premature end of Reconstruction and their passage of the Black Codes, major Republicans in Texas were able to use their individual resources to increase the quality of life for former slaves in the city of Galveston. The head of the Texas Republican Party, Norris Wright Cuney, established his own business of dockworkers in Galveston where he hired mostly black dockworkers, breaking the monopoly held by white dockworkers at the port. Because of this and other efforts by the Texas Republican Party to expand employment and educational opportunities for black Americans, despite the efforts of Democrats to disenfranchise them, Galveston became one of the great metropolitan centers of the south, and Juneteenth was Celebrated there until the early 1900’s when many black people began to migrate out of Texas to seek work in northern and western cities where Jim Crow didn’t exist by and large.
Many people don’t take the time to think though, that much like the story of emancipation in general, the story of Juneteenth and Galveston has 3 major players. It was the Blacks who were kept as slaves and later disenfranchised, the Democrats who oppressed them and used them as slaves, and the Republicans who committed to military intervention to free the slaves and continued to support them when the Democrats re-took power. However, the modern push for the recognition of Juneteenth completely ignores the history of the holiday and its reality. While there is an emphasis on reflecting on African American Heritage, so far it only seems that Black Republicans are the only ones reflecting on the actual events behind the holiday and its meaning. Disgustingly, the Democrats who are leading the charge are calling it black independence day (despite the fact many blacks were kept in slavery for months after the event in Galveston), and are framing it in a way to further try to separate African Americans from their fellow Americans.
Really think about this now. Let the depravity sink in. Democrats, who enslaved and oppressed black people and drove our country into civil war, are trying to use a holiday that celebrates the emancipation of slaves in Texas to further alienate and divide black people from their fellow Americans. Democrats, like the ones who withheld news of the emancipation proclamation from the people they kept as slaves for 3 years, even after the surrender of the Confederacy, are trying to profit politically off of the holiday meant to commemorate their final defeat in Texas and celebrate the emancipation of their victims. We can’t just allow that to happen without saying anything.
All we can do is tell the truth of what the Holiday is about and the history and facts surrounding it. So on that note, here is a carefully cultivated set of Juneteenth facts and historical talking points:
- Juneteenth commemorates the execution of General Order 3 in Galveston, Texas on June 19th, 1865 by Union Major General Gordon Granger.
- This was done with the tacit approval of the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who was appointed by Republican President Abraham Lincoln and whom Democratic President Andrew Jackson would try to remove in 1868.
- General Order 3 announced the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston 3 years after the original order was issued by Republican President Abraham Lincoln.
- Democrat Slave Owners in Galveston had withheld the news of the Emancipation Proclamation for 3 years as well as news of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox.
- Despite the branding as “Black Independence Day”, June 19th, 1865 was not the day the last African American Slaves were freed in the United States, just the last slaves held in Texas.
- Democrats in Delaware and Kentucky kept their slaves until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6th, 1865, 6 months after Granger marched through Galveston.
- While Joe Biden signed the bill making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday in 2021, the idea was voiced by Donald Trump in 2020 as part of a larger plan for African Americans which included access to $500 Billion in capital for Black Communities, expanded access to education, job training opportunities, and programs to address substance abuse among Americans.
- During the Jim Crow era, Democrats tried to discourage Juneteenth celebrations by barring blacks from accessing public parks and other resources to hold the events publically, so they were forced to hold the events at private churches and by the waterfronts instead of in the public eye.
In any case, Juneteenth is a great American Holiday and represents one great moment in American history. It is an important holiday and that is exactly why it is important that we do not let it be exploited for a political narrative, especially by the people who tried for decades to suppress it and oppress the people it is meant to celebrate. The politicians right now who are pretending it is so important to them also want you to forget the history behind it and their vile role in it. But like any American holiday such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day, and President’s Day, history is the most important part. It is a history of sorrow turned into momentary triumph, a story of the oppressed being freed, an ending to an era of vile oppression. So we all should take time to reflect on this, and on the history of this day, and on the major players in it. This matters because no matter the color of your skin, stories that celebrate freedom are the essence of what our country stands for and why our country was founded in the first place, and in a time when our freedoms are under threat more than ever, we should always remember just how precious and fragile thing freedom is.