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HomeUS NEWSDi Leo: Our First Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday

Di Leo: Our First Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday




By John F. Di Leo - 

On July 4, 1776, the United States of America declared themselves free and independent states, commencing a long journey to give the world a shining example of a nation in which limited government existed solely to secure the liberty of its individual citizens.

This journey took a long time to accomplish. First, a War of Independence, then an economic retooling of the nation, then a long fight to find some way to eliminate the inhuman way that one class of Americans – the slaves – were treated under the law.

Some call slavery “the original sin” of the American republic. This is unfair, as slavery had always existed in almost every country on earth, and still exists today in dozens and dozens of countries. The popular presentation of slavery as a peculiarly American crime against humanity is both utterly wrong and thoroughly malicious in its intent.


Even so, the practice of slavery is completely inconsistent with the philosophy upon which the United States were founded, so it needed to be eradicated, somehow. But how?


Most of the Founding Fathers believed they had a path that would work: halt the importation of new slaves, and grow the economy quickly, so that the government could afford to buy the freedom of existing slaves, give these former slaves a fair start, and thus treat both slaves and slaveowners fairly.


This plan, hoped for by the abolitionists and manumission activists of our founding era, encountered two problems. 


First, even when importation was reduced, the slave community grew too quickly through natural reproduction for a mass “buyout” to ever be affordable.  In fact, sadly, the idea grew less affordable, not more, every year.  


Second, even as the rest of Western Civilization united in opposition to slavery during the 19th century, the Democratic Party of the United States grew more intransigent in its devotion to the practice.


The other party in the United States – first the Federalists, then the Whigs, then the Republicans – always found itself alone in its efforts to find peaceful solutions by which to end the practice.


Finally, the nation erupted in Civil War… and with the Union victory, slavery was ended at last.


The claim that the Civil War was only about slavery is of course incorrect. It was about much more than that.  But the claim that it wasn’t about slavery at all is just as ridiculous. The Democratic party's relentless grip on what it called its "peculiar institution" was only broken after 2/3 of a million American lives were lost on the battlefield, and at least as many more were left to live their lives crippled, bearing a daily memory of the struggle in the loss of limbs, of sight, or of hearing.


If we celebrate July 4, 1776, then, as the commemoration of the beginning of this struggle for liberty,  it does make perfect sense that we should celebrate the culmination of the struggle as well.


But what day to choose?


A case could be made for several dates, as the appropriate representation for the completion of the American guarantee of individual liberty.


First, of course, is the date of President Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation. Finally, the United States government could not be stopped by a Democratic majority from doing the right thing. In the midst of Civil War, the president could act alone, and issue an executive order on the subject.


But an equally strong case could also be made against it, as the Emancipation Proclamation did not free every slave, but rather, could only bind the states that sided with the Union.


A stronger case, perhaps, could be made for the ratification or implementation dates of the 13th amendment. This amendment, guaranteeing human freedom and ending slavery in America forever, was ratified after reunification, and thus was binding on the entire country.  The 13th amendment freed the states that did not benefit from the Emancipation Proclamation.


But for some reason – a reason with motivations at which we can only guess – the Democratic party of today never wanted to make a federal holiday out of either of those dates.


Perhaps the Emancipation Proclamation, issued by our first Republican president, would too obviously give credit to the abolitionist party, the Republican party, and therefore too obviously remind the voters of today that the Democrats had opposed it all along.


The same goes for the 13th amendment. What more logical day could there be to celebrate the end of slavery than the ratification or effective dates of the 13th amendment?


But the 13th was passed by the legislatures in office after war's end. These legislatures were overwhelmingly Republican, as most who had turned coat against the United States to set up the Confederacy were excluded from politics at that point.


So, the 13th amendment is just as undeniable proof of the Republican party‘s commitment to the abolition of slavery, and the Democratic party's opposition to it, as the Emancipation Proclamation would be.


And so, gentle reader, the Democrats in complete control of our federal government today did not use those arguably pro-Republican dates as the dates with which to celebrate the end of slavery.


Instead, they turned to a fascinating local holiday, Juneteenth, barely known outside of Texas and a few communities with larger black populations, until relatively recently.


For those unaware, the basic history is this. Peace was declared at the Appomattox Courthouse, in April, 1865. Federal law – including the Emancipation Proclamation – was therefore binding across the entire reunified country at that point…


… But not every slaveholder was willing to accept that defeat.


In many areas across the south, Democrat-written, Democrat-passed, Democrat-enforced laws had banned the teaching of reading and writing to slaves for generations. Since most could not read a newspaper, how would they learn about the news?


Sure enough, all over the south were plantations and towns in which, even if the war's ending was known, the end of slavery was not.


Union soldiers traveled, bringing word of the truth, and as legend has it, June 19, 1865, was the date on which Union soldiers brought the news to Galveston, Texas, the last remaining town where the black population had been kept ignorant of their newly won freedom.


In recent generations, Democrat activists have done a masterful job in growing the popularity of Juneteenth. They have cast it as a indictment of the establishment, and by inference, an indictment of white government, warning their people that even if a law is passed to protect them, they cannot trust the white establishment to look out for them.  They don’t say it out loud, in so many words, but this has been there message for decades.


Turning such a date into a federal holiday must appear to them like the culmination of a great PR campaign.


But there is a problem, perhaps one that they did not realize. They were too clever by half.


In truth, since all the politicians of both parties were white at the time, the issue cannot be viewed as being one of black and white. The slaves' owners and persecutors were white; the slaves' political champions were white as well.


In fact, when you drill down, it is undeniable who the real heroes and villains of the Juneteenth story are.


The Republican party, following in the footsteps of Whigs and Federalist before them, grow more and more dedicated over the decades to finding some way to bring an end to slavery. 


And throughout the same period, as time passed and Democrats' memories of the Founders of their party grew more distant, Democrats grew more and more attached to the practice, and fought every effort to restrain the practice, tooth and nail, for generations.


Finally, even when a Civil War had been fought over the matter, and it was resolved at last, it was Democrats – slaveowners, pro-slavery local leaders, etc. – who kept the knowledge of their freedom from America’s blacks.


And it was Republicans – the politicians, the generals, the soldiers of the Union army – who had to travel from town to town to spread the word that these people were finally free.


Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. Rushed through in the dark of night, signed into law by a confused old imposter, designed to become effective within 24 hours, in complete contrast to every prior federal holiday’s implementation.


With no time to prepare, federal employees were simply told to stay home on Friday, throwing a monkey wrench into the schedules of countless Americans who had meetings, contract negotiations, permit requests, and other such needs on the table for this Friday.


40 years ago, the last time a federal holiday was added, there were months of debate, discussing whether the nation could afford the cost of yet another free day for federal employees, already the most highly compensated class – as a class of employees – in America.


True to the current administration‘s disregard of fiscal responsibilities or the laws of economics, there was no such debate this year. Another free day for the employees of the nation's largest aggregate employer, the public sector? Sure. Why not?


In the end, we have before us a new federal holiday… which, along with Independence Day, provides a complete set of bookends on our calendars for the century of struggle between the Stamp Act Congress of 1765 and the 13th Amendment of 1865.  


Just as our struggle for independence was begun, not by opposition to all of Great Britain, but only to the King and the King's party, the end of this struggle was similarly not a battle between all whites and all blacks, but rather, a battle between the Republicans and the Democrats… a contest between those who value freedom and those who value power.


The Democrats of today are so blind to their own history, and so inebriated with their current power, that they clearly didn’t think it through.


In making Juneteenth a national holiday, we now have a formal remembrance in our calendar of the corruption, bigotry, and unyielding elitism of the Democrat party, which has only grown in the centuries since it was founded.


Another paid government holiday may be expensive, but this may well be one of those few moments in time when an additional, massive government expenditure might just turn out to be worth the money.


Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo 


John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international trade compliance trainer, writer and actor.   A collection of his Illinois Review columns on the problem of vote fraud, "The Tales of Little Pavel," is available in e-book or paperback on Amazon. Watch for John’s upcoming book, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe," coming soon!


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  1. The end of the Republican Party! I don’t think they realize how upset some people are that Republicans voted almost unanimously to make this a holiday. We will be staying home and no longer donating. What’s the point of voting for a party that does nothing for it’s base and continues to pander to people that will never vote Republican? They will be in for for rude awakening in 2022!