So it appears that we are to have a new federal holiday – that day, following on the final defeat of the Confederacy that slaves in Texas were informed by the arriving Union troops that they were now free. I think it’s marvelous, noting the day when the last slaves in a Confederate state were notified by Republicans that they were no longer slaves.

With apologies to Wm. Shakespeare…

He that outlives this war, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Juneteenth.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the anniversary eve feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Juneteenth:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say ‘These wounds I had in that great war.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did at Gettysburg Antietam, Shiloh, and Petersburg:

then shall their names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Lincoln the President, Grant and Sherman,
Hancock and Sheridan, Hooker and Chamberlain,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Juneteenth that day shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,

But those Union warriors in it shall be remember’d!

21 thoughts on “Juneteenth”

  1. The actual point of Juneteenth is to avoid or minimize any commemoration of the Union soldiers. Nearly all were white and, therefore, unworthy of remembrance. It also avoids celebrating the preservation of the Union that many of the promoters are committed to ending. Otherwise, there are many more significant dates that would serve better than the date of an obscure, purely local event.

  2. Likely that is what Biden’s handlers were thinking – but I’m all for plugging enthusiastically the reminder that it was Union soldiers and Republicans who made the freeing of black slaves from their Democrat party owners stick.

  3. Veteran’s Day, originally linked with WWI, now explicitly honors veterans of all our wars and the original intent of Memorial day to commemorate those that died in battle has been somewhat diluted into a sort of general memorial. We don’t have any holidays dedicated to any single war.

    I agree that the end of slavery deserves commemoration on its own. A far more meaningful date would be January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was published or December 6, 1865 when the 13th Amendment ending slavery everywhere was ratified.

    Of course, the really important issue is what would be a good day for federal employees to be paid for not working. Jan. 1, is right out and few work any time in December. They really need some time off in the long slog from Memorial Day to July 4.

  4. It strikes me as a pretty arbitrary and anachronistic celebration–the commemoration of the reception of old news by a small and remote subset of all the enslaved . . . But like they say, everything’s bigger in Texas.

    Cousin Eddie

  5. Hello. I was a little caught off guard by this news earlier today, not having seen it get nearly as much play on the news sites that I frequent as I would have expected.

    While I think I can appreciate the spirit of what Juneteenth represents, and it does sound like there’s an interesting story to be told there, I can’t yet see myself in the position of being able to give a ‘Congratulations’ about it, because I find myself disturbed by some questions about this particular legislation.

    In the bill as enacted, it says the day is to be formally called “Juneteenth National Independence Day.” Let’s unpack this some. First of all, that word ‘National’ – to precisely which ‘nation’ does this refer? It can’t be the general American ‘nation’ as a whole, since that was already independent at the time and had been for eighty years. It can’t be any of the Native American Nations, since they were not slaves and therefore unaffected by the Emancipation Proclamation and so on. Given the context, this word can only be referring to the ‘nation’ of Black America, it seems to me. If that understanding is correct, then inextricably built into the celebration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday is the concept, essentially now enshrined in federal law in a sense, of Black America as a distinct nation within the United States of America. I believe this is a novelty.

    Second, this word ‘Independence’ – independence from whom or what? Independence from slavery? But those words don’t go together naturally; one would speak of “freedom” or “liberation” from slavery, but to say “independence from slavery” or something along these lines seems strange. Blacks were not, after all, “dependent” upon slavery in the first place, at least not as I think most people would understand that word. One could argue that they were, only in the limited sense that it was because of their value as slaves that they were kept fed and clothed, but that seems to me to be a somewhat tortured gloss on the idea of “dependence”.

    So… independence from what exactly? If the subject is July 4, I know precisely (well, as precisely as any reasonably educated American would, at least) how to describe the difference between our former state of dependence and our subsequent state of independence. I know, in other words, what America was dependent on and what she became independent of. The legislation just passed concerning Juneteenth has not one such enlightening word to contribute. Could the word be referring to independence of “Black America” from “white America”, or “America” in general? I don’t see how that can be the case, since neither in 1865 nor subsequently was this the actual or even intended outcome of the announcement of the end of slavery. It’s all a little baffling.

  6. I believe in TX it is called Emancipation Day. Changing that to Independence Day is a massive red flag.
    I am in favor of celebrating the delivery of the news of freedom from slavery at the hands of Democrats, by force of arms from their fellow Americans at the end of a savage war, that a huge fraction of today’s American’s ancestors weren’t even here for…

  7. In the days of Jim Crow and Sundown Towns “National” was sometimes the term chosen when American had already been claimed– American Bar Association/National BA, AMA(?).

    Some African-American Baptists were National Baptists; “Southern” on the other hand could go either way– sometimes with lily-white connotations and sometimes B/black.

    Philip Sells unpacks the possibilities very neatly; none of them bode well IMO.

    Cousin Eddie

  8. Today, a presumed descendant of slaves celebrated by shooting from his car 12 residents of the Phoenix AZ area. Fox briefly showed his surrender and skin hue but now describes him only as “an adult male.” AZ Republic, the Phoenix newspaper, does not mention the shootings in its online edition. I watched the Tucker Carlson interview of John McWhorter, a highly respected black professor, who also pointed out the risks of the inflammatory language of the CRT enthusiasts. It’s apparent that McWhorter was not enthusiastic about going on Carlson’s show (Fox Nation), but the interview was excellent. He is rightly worried about 13% of the nation deciding to go to war with 60% of it.

    Maybe this was a round one of that war. One victim did shoot back but missed him. This is AZ, after all.

  9. I mourn the closure that it seemed as though we were attaining back during the 1990s and early 2000s. Race looked as though it might become what it damn well should be–An irrelevancy, interesting only as a matter of curiosity.

    I doubt that will be the case, going forward. The various and sundry race-mongers are ramping things up, and this will not end well for anyone. I suspect that the end state for all this will amount to ethnic cleansing, and that any black Americans surviving are only going to do so by way of passing for anything other than black. The sad thing is, it won’t be the “whites” doing the deed; it will, instead, be the so-called “hispanic” and “asian” groups, and they’re going to do it out of self-defense against the rising tide of black lawlessness coming out of their inner-city reservoirs. The fact that too many young black males are falling for the race-mongers con game won’t result in any mercies being applied to their elders, women, or children. I don’t think these people understand what happens once you whip that genie out of the bottle, and they don’t grasp the fact that while hispanics and asians can easily blend into the “white” communities as “honorary whites”, the blacks cannot, and will not. An ethnicity with no more than 12-13% of the population cannot levy either insurrection or race war on the rest, without there being an utter destruction brought upon it. And, if you think that brown and yellow aren’t going to recognize that they’re just as likely to wind up as victims of the blacks as the white majority, and make common cause with them? LOL… You are one dumb mofo.

    I don’t wish what I see coming on anyone, but I cannot see a light at the end of this tunnel that isn’t an onrushing train, and these damn fools won’t get off the tracks. “Black Lives Matter”? Yeah; to who? Certainly not the people inciting this stupidity, or most of the feral black population that’s willingly serving as their cat’s paw. The ultimate losers of all this will be any men of any color who have good will and who see beyond skin color–Simply because they’re going to get run over by the failure revolution and then the inevitable counter-revolution that’s not unlikely to look a lot like what happened in Cambodia under Pol Pot, only without the humanity.

    Look south to Mexico. Note the historical records for how many African slaves were taken there, and now ask yourself why there’s not really an awful lot of African-descended Mexicans, while there are a whole lot of Castilian, Mestizo, and Indio types still alive. There are reasons for that, and there are reasons why there are not an awful lot of blacks living in areas of California that have become hispanic-majority…

    If you’re a black person of good will, living in what was once America? Get yourself and yours out. The future ain’t going to be pretty for anyone that can’t pass as white or brownish-white. And, on the way out? Thank the Democrats and their buddies in the “activist community”. They set all of this up, and are stoking the furnaces as we speak.

  10. Texas was not occupied by Union troops until the war ended and the Union general showed up. That’s when the “Emancipation Proclamation” was put into force, as a martial law decree. Prior to that, Texas was under no obligation whatsoever to free its slaves. And unless you are of the opinion that the imposition of martial law on entire states is legitimate, then no one was really legally obliged to free slaves anywhere, until the Thirteenth Amendment was passed. Juneteenth is idiotic nonsense.

  11. The Texas slaves weren’t the last slaves to be freed. As far as I know, slavery remained legal in the Border States until the ratification of the 13th Amendment on December 6.

    The Emancipation Proclamation was explicitly limited to the states in rebellion. In all my reading on the Civil War, I can’t recall anything about the reaction of the slaves and slave owners of the Border States in the nearly two and a half years between the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the war.

    Ironically, one of the states where slavery apparently remained legal after Juneteenth is Delaware. This Britannica article states the slavery had been in decline from long before the Civil War in Delaware without mentioning any possible state action before the 13th Amendment mooted the issue. Also mentioned was the Democrat’s support for segregation until supplanted by the Republicans in the 1890’s.

    The Texas slaves had, of course, actually been free for nearly two and a half years without the government having the ability to enforce the “fact’. A fitting reminder of the limits of the “pen”.

  12. MCS is correct about the exclusion of the loyal states from the EP as issued; without going back to refresh my memory, some of them instituted state abolition measures before the end of the war.

    Cousin Eddie

  13. Many of the slaves freed in the South during the war were freed by Sherman’s army. He was not enthusiastic about it as they constituted a burden on his army to feed and clothe. Many were organized by the heroic, and now forgotten, Mary Anne Bickerdyke who accompanied Sherman’s army from Cairo Illinois to Washington for the final parade. She was a nurse and “Botanick Doctor” who arrived in Cairo to bring medical supplies and who continued, in spite of opposition from some the doctors in the army, to organize kitchens and hospitals in many cases using freed slaves to build them. When some officious types complained, Sherman said, “She outranks me.” She marched with the army through Georgia and along the way discovered that blackberries prevent scurvy. Her “army” of freed slaves kept up the kitchens that fed the troops and built many roads through the swamps of South Carolina.

    After the war, she and Sherman organized what later became the Veterans Administration, Maybe I’ll do a post on her one day.

  14. Oh, I know about Mother Bickerdyke and her mobile hospital workers – freed slaves running the laundry, bakery and support functions. It would be a fantastic post, Mike. (She may be a character in one of my next books.)

  15. Civil War Women? On the CS side, the remarkable Elizabeth Avery Meriwether; supposedly the famous Mother Jones was in Memphis during the war (when Mrs Meriwether was exiled by Sherman).

    An elite Northern woman who left a memoir of life with the army was Agnes Leclerc of Philadelphia, who married Prince Felix Salm-Salm, sometime BG, US Army.

    Cousin Eddie

  16. Small correction to Mike K’s comment about McWhorter – he got two interviews confused. His link goes to Althouse’s blog, and she had a somewhat misleading headline: “his adventure” refers to Loury.
    The post is interesting, as is the discussion in the comments.

    Glenn Loury talks with John McWhorter about his adventure in Tucker Carlson land.
    June 17, 2021
    McWhorter didn’t think Loury should dignify Carlson with his presence, but Loury thought he should go on the show — “Tucker Carlson Today” (paywalled here) — to reach Carlson’s audience. He was wary that Carlson might try to use him as a tool but felt he could defend against that, and in the end Carlson was actually a good listener. Carlson interviewed him the way Oprah would, Loury says.

  17. It’s telling that the Federal Government is the only organization the seems to have actually taken the day off. As others have said, it’s like they weren’t really doing anything important anyway. It’s good to know what their good at. A more cynical person than I might even think about encouraging them to take more time off, much more time off.

  18. all the reminders in the world about how democrats are the real racists will not change the vote significantly. it is a losing strategy because you have to buy into your opponent’s moral framework…. namely, that being racist is the worst possible thing a person can be. murder is acceptable and murderers can be rehabilitated by racists must be exterminated. oh and by the way, when the right hears the left use the word “racist” they think what the left means is any bigotry or discrimination committed by any person against any other person based on some inherent aspect of that person. that is not what the left means. what they mean is any bigotry or discrimination (real or imagined by potential victims) against any non-white person committed by a white(identifying)person. it is why they say that minorities cannot be racist. they mean that. they also extend the meaning to include any awareness of or thought or action intending for white people to see themselves as a distinct group with distinct interests. pointing out that republicans freed the slaves will not buy you a halo. it will at best ensure that you have a flattering eulogy and that your ideology will be buried and forgotten.

  19. What we can do, should do and are doing is to laugh at their pretension and rub their noses in their hypocrisy every chance we get.

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