une 19th has come and gone this year, and I forgot about it. On that day, in 1865, enslaved black folks in Galveston, Texas found out they were free. Major General Cordon Granger of the Union Army went to Galveston to tell the people that the war was over and the slaves were free.
Ahem. But the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in September of 1862 and was scheduled to be enforced on January 1, 1863. And, General Lee surrendered in April of 1865. Why was there over a two year gap between the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation? Was it because it was so difficult to get news to Galveston?
Whatever the reason, something clicked in my head last night, making me remember Frederick Law Olmsted and his pre-Civil War trip through Texas. He wrote a book about it entitled A Journey through Texas. Debbie Nathan of the Texas Observer observed:
The peculiar institution was more peculiar in Texas than in other states, and Olmsted’s eye for the weirdness makes Journey a page turner. So does his use of sprightly travelogue to make the serious argument that slavery was ruining Texas. His best evidence? It sounds like the silly kvetching of a modern-day East Coast tourist, and it boils down to this: From Houston to Austin to Corpus Christi, he could hardly find a decent shmear.
Happy belated Juneteenth Day.