Juneteenth is America’s newest federal holiday and is a celebration of ending slavery in the United States of America. Juneteenth marks June 19, 1865 as the day Union Army General Gordon Granger, from his headquarters in Galveston, Texas, proclaimed freedom for all enslaved people in Texas. “Juneteenth” is a combination of the words June and nineteenth and is a creation of Freedmen in Texas. Freedmen is what former slaves in America were called after the Civil War. Every June 19th since 1865, Juneteenth has been celebrated in Texas, in the South, and elsewhere. President Joseph Biden made Juneteenth a federal holiday when he signed the congressional act into law on June 19th, 2022.
Abolishing slavery in North America took hundreds of years. Various Native American tribes practiced slavery thousands of years before Europeans settled in North and South America. When English colonists imported slaves in 1619, they were not bringing a new practice to the continent. However, not all colonists favored slavery. In 1688, German Quakers issued the Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery. Throughout the 1700s, colonists in the north formed abolitionist societies. An abolitionist was a person who wanted to end (abolish) slavery. Between the American Revolution and 1804, all of the Northern states provided for the gradual or immediate abolition of slavery. Slavery continued in the South until right after the end of the Civil War.
The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was a major turning point in the abolition of slavery in the United States of America. Lincoln and the new Republican Party believed in “free soil and free men.” This meant the Republicans were against slavery. In 1860, the only Americans who owned slaves were Democrats. After Lincoln’s election, Southern white Democrats formed the Confederate States of America and declared itself separate from the Union. In the American Civil War (1861-1865), Lincoln led the Union, also called the North, and defeated the Confederacy, also called the South.
The story of ending slavery in America during the Civil War is somewhat complicated. In the Civil War, some states fighting in the Union were slaveholding states (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware). Lincoln’s goal at the beginning of the war was to keep the country together, not to end slavery. However, as the war progressed Lincoln changed his goal to end slavery. On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This ended slavery only in the rebelling states. This meant that slaves in the rebelling states would only become free when the Union Army conquered their state. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. However, the Union Army did not take over Texas until June of 1865, when General Granger announced all slaves to be free. Slaves in the Union states did not get their freedom until eight months after the Civil War. President Lincoln persuaded the Republican Congress to pass the 13th Amendment in January 1865. It was ratified on December 6, 1865. The 13th Amendment ended slavery. The last African-American slaves held in the United States were held by the Choctaw Indians, who freed their slaves in 1866.
Juneteenth is a day to celebrate the ending of slavery in America. While the details of exactly when slavery ended may be intricate, Americans have decided to make this day embody all of the joy and celebration that surrounds the long battle to end involuntary servitude. Every year since the first Juneteenth, Americans in Texas have celebrated the end of slavery.
Americans made great sacrifices to end slavery. In the war, over 360,000 Northerners died, over 275,000 were wounded, and over 2,000,000 served. About 180,000 black American soldiers served in the Union Army, with nearly 40,000 of them dying. As a result of Union sacrifices on the battlefield, slavery ended in the United States. Juneteenth is a day to celebrate freedom and to remember the courage and sacrifices made by Americans to win the war and end slavery.
1. What does the word Juneteenth mean?
2. What happened on June 19th, 1865, in Galveston, Texas?
3. When did the Civil War occur?
4. What did the Republicans think about slavery in 1860?
5. What did Southern Democrats think about slavery in 1860?
6. What was the Emancipation Proclamation?
7. Which slave states fought with the Union against the South?
8. Which amendment ended slavery?
9. Who held the last slaves on American soil?
10. How many Northern soldiers died and were wounded in the Civil War?
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John De Gree
John De Gree writes the current events with a look at the history of each topic. Articles are written for the young person, aged 10-18, and Mr. De Gree carefully writes so that all readers can understand the event. The perspective the current events are written in is Judeo-Christian.
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