On June 19, 2022, I did a little research about the end of slavery and Juneteenth (June 19, 1865). There are many sources you can check. Below is summary of some of the things that came to my attention in my research. Juneteenth represents the culmination, in June, 1865, of the war-time federal effort, as US troops advanced into the South, to abolish slavery in the states that had left the US. In contrast, slavery in the “border states” ended separately, including in some cases by passage of the US 13th Amendment.
As the country had headed into war, the Southern states and some of the “border states” still maintained legalized slavery. The international “sale” of people into the US had been banned by federal law in the early 1800s. But D.C. and “border states” like Delaware and Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri historically had maintained slavery, even though they did not join the Confederate States of America or secede from the U.S. And most of the enslaved people lived in the South, where slavery was supported by state law. The war began in 1861 and ended in mid-1865. In the 1860s, Lincoln and Congress were involved in a number of unsuccessful effort efforts to address the “legality” of slavery, including in the border states. And of course the Southern states had seceded and thus were for that time not susceptible to the force of US law.
In September, 1862, about 1 ½ years after the war had begun, Lincoln advised the states that seceded that as of January 1, 1863 “all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free….” None of the states then in rebellion returned to the U.S. at that point, so the proclamation was issued and took effect on January 1, 1863. It was an executive order as part of the war effort, not an act of Congress.
Because the Emancipation Proclamation only applied to states (or portions of states) outside the control of the US government at the start of 1863, the Proclamation only became effective as the US began to take territory back from the Confederate State of America. The border states that had remained in the US were not the subject of the Emancipation Proclamation.
As the US gained successes and gradually established control over Southern territory, enslaved people gradually gained “legal” freedom in those territories. This occurred at various times through the war. One source identifies September 22, January 1, July 4, August 1, April 6, and November 1, among other dates, as days of “Jubilee,” in which emancipation came to various locations in the South.
Juneteenth represents the last of the “official” steps freeing enslaved people in the Southern states that rebelled. The western Confederate Army of the Trans-Mississippi, surrendered in late May or early June, 1865 (After the surrender at Appomattox). On June 19, 1865, federal troops enforced the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. A US general arrived at Galveston that day, took control of 2,000 federal troops and issued orders to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas. The orders he issued included the following:
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.
Looking at the text, you can judge for yourself the tensions in the region and the concerns of some of the parties involved.
Because the Emancipation Proclamation applied only in areas in rebellion as of 1/1/63, the end of slavery in the “border states” occurred separately. For instance, “legal” slavery continued in Maryland until November 1, 1864, when the state adopted its state constitution, which outlawed slavery.
Ultimately, the 13th Amendment, which had been passed in early 1865 by Congress while the war was ongoing, became effective toward the end of 1865, when governments in 4 of the southern States supplied the necessary ¾ state-votes to formally amend the US Constitution to end slavery as a matter of US law in the “United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” That passage freed another 100,000 or so individuals in Delaware and Kentucky, which had stayed in the U.S. during the war and had not been subject to the Emancipation Proclamation.
Thomas R Kelly, Esq.
Robinson, Kriger & McCallum
12 Portland Pier
Portland, Maine 04101