"Juneteenth" became a federal holiday this year “commemorating the emancipation of slaves,” honoring the date in 1865 in which General Order No. 3 by Union Major General Gordon Granger proclaimed freedom for slaves in Texas. However, the claim that this is the date on which all slaves became free is historically inaccurate. Slavery still existed in the country months after June 19, 1865. It wasn’t until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on Dec. 6, 1865, that slavery was finally abolished.
"In the first place, I insist that our fathers did not make this nation half slave and half free, or part slave and part free. I insist that they found the institution of slavery existing here. They did not make it so, but they left it so because they knew of no way to get rid of it at that time,” Lincoln said in 1858 at a debate with Stephen Douglas.
The ratification of the 13th Amendment would finally remedy this.
The quagmire that Lincoln described ended in the United States 156 years ago today (though a case could also be made for Dec. 18, 1865, when it was proclaimed). The 13th Amendment was a groundbreaking piece of legislation in our country’s history and Western civilization. It ended one of the ugliest parts of the country’s history. It reads: "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."
Most people today have no clue about the significance of Dec. 6. In a nonscientific poll conducted throughout Philadelphia this weekend, zero respondents knew slavery had ended on Dec. 6. The majority of respondents replied with “Juneteenth” as the answer. Other popular answers included “Emancipation Day,” “the Emancipation Proclamation,” and the “13th Amendment.” However, as much as slavery is discussed in the country, from politicians to movies to academia, the incorrect answers regarding when slavery actually ended are concerning.
Some answers were flat-out bonkers, including some respondents who felt slavery hadn’t ended.
“None. We are still enslaved (mentally and physically if you identify as a United States citizen),” one respondent said. Of course, this is nonsensical. Asserting that black people are still enslaved is extremely disrespectful to those who actually suffered slavery. Today, black people are CEOs, millionaires, mayors, and politicians at local, state, and federal levels — including a former president and a sitting vice president. They comprise a significant part of popular culture. To conflate that with being enslaved indicates the type of toxic indoctrination of the woke era.
Then again, the idea the Civil Rights movement failed is a central tenet of critical race theory.
Americans should recognize and celebrate a holiday that commemorates the end of slavery. Americans corrected a societal wrong by liberating an entire class of people in bondage. Consider Lincoln’s own words to realize the magnitude of the importance of the 13th Amendment.
“What I do say is, that no man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. I say this is the leading principle — the sheet anchor of American republicanism,” Lincoln said in a speech in October 1854.
Slavery started with African kings and chieftains enslaving their own and trading with Europeans. But slavery lived on in the U.S. after Europe discarded it.
Hundreds of thousands of slaves, 625,000 soldiers, numerous abolitionists, both white and black, and one president all died fighting to end slavery in the U.S. We ought to honor this feat by remembering the magnitude and significance of Dec. 6 — the anniversary of slavery's end.