Juneteenth Wasn’t the End of Enslavement in the United States

Here’s Why We Should Still Celebrate

Ajah Hales
4 min readJun 26, 2021
16 oz mason jar of watermelon punch, garnished with watermelon
Photo by Євгенія Височина on Unsplash

Now that Juneteenth is a national holiday, people of all races are discovering its significance. Juneteenth is the day that Union soldiers marched through Galveston, Texas, and informed enslaved people that the war was over, the South had lost, and they were, in fact, free. It is commemorated as the end of slavery in America. It isn’t. There’s only one teeny little problem...

The funny thing about history is, you can assign significance to almost anything. We never audit our holidays. If we did, we would know that Easter and Valentine’s Day are rooted in pagan fertility rituals. Personally, I think it’s time for Lupercalia to make the comeback, but that’s just IMHO.

But I digress.

America loves a loophole — after all, we are a country founded by lawyers. So it’s ironic that the loophole that allowed enslavement to continue in the United States until August of 1866 did not come from colonizers but the colonized.

Native Americans lived in what the United States government called Indian Territory. Because of the treaties signed with Indigenous Americans, the United States government had no jurisdiction over Indian territory.

Before treaties signed between March and August of 1866, the only Native American tribes who had voluntarily abolished enslavement were the Cherokee. Even among the national Cherokee Confederacy, many-sided with the Confederacy and had no intention of giving up their free labor.

the idea of paying more to be incarcerated than you would to stay at a Howard Johnson brings many adjectives to mind. None of them are “free.”

The de jure end of enslavement in the United States was on June 14th, 1866, one day after the 14th amendment was approved. This is when the Creek Tribe finally agreed to abolish the enslavement of Black Americans.

The de facto end of enslavement is a bit trickier to pinpoint. Some would say it was in August of 1866 when the treaties were enforced. Others would argue that because of the loophole…



Ajah Hales

World Changer. Social Thinker. Business Owner. #WEOC