American Elephants

Happy Juneteenth! by The Elephant's Child

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Juneteenth commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. State of Texas in 1865.  Abraham Lincoln, Republican, the 16th President of the United States, Issued the Emancipation Proclamation of September 22, 1862, with an effective date of January 1, 1863.  It had little immediate effect on most slaves day-to-day lives, particularly in the Confederate States.  Texas, a Confederate state, was resistant to the proclamation.

Slavery was prevalent in East Texas, but not as common in the Western parts of the state, especially in the Hill country, where many German-American settlers were opposed to the practice. Juneteenth commemorates the day when Union General Gordon Granger and 2,000 federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to take possession of the state and enforce the emancipation of slaves. On June 19, 1865 General Granger read the contents of General Order No. 3, from the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa:

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.

Former slaves rejoiced in the streets, and Juneteenth celebrations began in Texas the following year.  39 states have officially passed legislation to officially recognize Juneteenth.


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