Many outside of Texas have never heard of Juneteenth because in most Southern states the commemorate date of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated January 1, because of Lincoln signing the proclamation on January 1, 1863. Juneteenth, means June 19, 1865 is when the news of the emancipation finally reached Texas. Two years later after it was signed. It wasn’t enforced in Texas until after Lee surrendered to Grant.
Lincoln unveil the proclamation on the heels of a Union military success. On September 22, 1862, after the battle at Antietam, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation declaring all slaves free in the rebellious states as of January 1, 1863 the date he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Juneteenth is a festival held annually on the nineteenth of June by African Americans (especially in some southern states like Texas), to commemorate emancipation from slavery in Texas on June 19, 1865.
Juneteenth is one of the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended, Lee had surrendered, and that the enslaved are now free. Note, that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863.
The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops in Texas to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance. There were a few conflicts skits but nothing like a real battle due to most surviving soldiers hadn’t returned home yet.
Later attempts to explain the two and a half year delay in the receipt of this important news have yielded several versions that have been handed down through the years. Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom.
Another story is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. Sounds probably.
And still another, is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. I seriously doubt this one because the Union soldiers were peeved off as hell after four years of war and wanting to go home
All of which, or neither of these version could be true. Certainly, for some, President Lincoln’s authority over the rebellious states was in question For whatever the reasons, conditions in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.
When one write historical fiction you come across lots of things that by today’s or any decent standard that are very inhumane, cruel and petty. But these things are important because they still affect how people behave today.