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Posts from June 2020

June Jubilees and Two Versions of General Order No. 3

To-day is Juneteenth. Celebrations on June 19th began as a Jubilee Day festival by freed African-Americans in Galveston and around abouts in Texas in 1866. Over the years it spread through other Southern black communities and spread into the western states through the Great Migration. The main story of Juneteenth is the story of a festival culture that spread throughout Southern black communities, on a lot of different days, where African-Americans organized parades, picnics, processions, and other public community celebrations to observe the anniversary day, or just to celebrate the fact, of emancipation from slavery. The specific date of June 19th radiated out from Texas through migration and cultural diffusion; some of the reasons for convergence on the date outside of Texas had to do with the Great Migration, and others just had to do with the obvious reasons to recommend a day on the edge of high summer for big outdoor community celebrations.

But the special significance of the day in Texas — the occasion of the event — was to mark the anniversary of the public pronouncement, and the beginning of effective enforcement, of the the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.[1] The U.S. General Gordon Granger arrived to take command of the occupied District of Texas in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and immediately posted and read out a series of General Orders, which included General Order No. 3. Here is the text, as it was re-printed in Flake’s Daily Bulletin, one of the Galveston papers of the time, on June 22, 1865.[2] Really, it’s not the most inspiring freedom document in the world (I guess announcements by white U.S. Generals usually aren’t), and of course the greater meaning of the day is in the people and communities who enjoyed it and who celebrate it, not in the text that happened to provide the occasion to set it off. But, in any case, this is what people read out on the day:


Headquarters District of Texas
Galveston, Texas, June 19th, 1865.

General Orders, No. 3.

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. By order of

Major General GRANGER

F. W. Emery, Major, A. A. General

— Flake’s Daily Bulletin (Galveston, Tex.), June 19, 1865, p. 2.

The scan that Portal to Texas History has of this issue is, sadly, only barely legible; but the text appears at the bottom of the 3rd column and the top of the 4th on page 2, along with four other General Orders issued by Granger. (In No. 1 Granger assumes command of all soldiers in Texas, No. 2 announces the general staff, No. 3 publicizes the Emancipation Proclamation, No. 4 nullifies all acts of the secessionist government and orders remaining Confederate troops to surrender themselves into U.S. custody, and No. 5 arranges for the Army Quartermasters to act as a monopoly agent for the purchase and sale of cotton.)

There are actually a couple of textual variants to General Order No. 3. The version many people have seen online over the last few years — thanks to digitizations hosted by BlackPast and, via BlackPast, on WikiMedia Commons — is a signed, printed handbill preserved by the Dallas Historical Society, which must have been circulated in Texas some time on or after June 25, 1865.[3] That version of the order reads as follows:

Galveston, Texas, June 19, 1865.


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 rights, and rights of property between former master and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that of employer and free laborer. The freedmen are advised to remain 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, there or elsewhere.

By Order of
G. GRANGER, Major General Commanding.
F. W. Emory, Major and A. A. Gen’l.

Presented in General Order No. 3, Dead Confederates (June 19, 2015)

The handbill’s version of the order reads This involves an absolute equality of rights, and rights of property between former master and slaves, where the Galveston newspaper version reads This involves an absolute equality of personal rights between former masters and slaves. The handbill also reads the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer, and free laborer, instead of the Galveston newspaper version’s between employer and hired labor.[4] The Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph published a version very close to the handbill free laborer version on June 28; the same variant appears in the version of the order printed in the Clarksville Standard in July. Free laborer was also the phrase used in the version half-quoted, half-paraphrased by The Bellville Countryman (June 24). Most other newspapers closely followed the Galveston newspaper hired labor version, for example the Dallas Herald, and the New York Times. The version read into the Congressional Record follows the hired labor Galveston newspaper version. The version in the Austin Weekly State Gazette, and the Matamoros, Mexico Daily Ranchero follow the Galveston newspaper versions in other respects, but they read hired laborer in place of hired labor.[5]

Anyway, that’s the documentary history. For more on the deeper and more lasting story — the story of free black community festivals, of Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Juneteenth celebrations, and of black life after the day of emancipation — check out Juneteenth (Texas State Library), Galveston History: General Order No. 3, and BlackPast on Juneteenth: The Growth of an African American Holiday (1865-).

  1. [1]This year seems to be the year that public awareness of Juneteenth outside the black community really becomes fully part of the national mainstream, and it’s become weirdly common to try to explain the reasons for the date with phrases like the day that the last slaves were made free, or the day that all slaves became aware of their freedom, etc. That’s kind of a weird oversimplification, or mischaracterization, of what happened. People remained in slavery outside of Texas well after Juneteenth, for example in the slaveholding Border States — in Kentucky and Delaware, some people continued to be held in slavery until the 13th Amendment took effect on December 18, 1865. Lots of people in Texas already knew about the Emancipation Proclamation well before Juneteenth — even in conditions of extreme tyranny and isolation, word spreads, and many Black people sought Union lines where they could well before the end of the War. Some people in Texas found out about the Emancipation Proclamation from the General Order, but others didn’t know about emancipation until months after, when Union soldiers reached further out into inland Texas, etc.
  2. [2]This is the earliest number of Flake’s Daily Bulletin that I know of in the Portal to Texas History’s collection; it’s possible that the order might also have been printed in the previous days’ numbers of the paper; the General Orders were re-printed multiple times throughout 1865 in the paper’s columns.
  3. [3]It compiles several orders, including one from June 25 by L.B. Houston.
  4. [4]It also gets F. W. Emery’s last name wrong, in the printed text — although Emery was apparently willing to sign off on that, in his own hand.
  5. [5]Perhaps a small typographical error in one was repeated in the other; or maybe they did it just to be ornery.

A Plot!

Reading: David Hume, History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, vol. 6, Chapter LXVII, 332 et seq.

The usual Over My Shoulder rules apply:

  1. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, which should be more a matter of context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than they are a matter of discussing the material.

  2. Quoting a passage absolutely does not entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Anyway, here’s the quote. This is from Vol. 6, Chapter LXVII, of Hume’s History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688, concerning Titus Oates’s spectacular allegations of a secret Catholic government-in-hiding and a Popish Plot against the liberty of Protestant England and the life of King Charles II.

1678. The Popish plot.

The English nation, ever since the fatal league with France, had entertained violent jealousies against the court; and the subsequent measures, adopted by the king, had tended more to encrease than cure the general prejudices. Some mysterious design [333] was still suspected in every enterprize and profession: Arbitrary power and popery were apprehended as the scope of all projects: Each breath or rumour made the people start with anxiety: Their enemies, they thought, were in their very bosom, and had gotten possession of their sovereign’s confidence. While in this timorous, jealous disposition, the cry of a plot all on a sudden struck their ears: They were wakened from their slumber; and like men affrightened and in the dark, took every figure for a spectre. The terror of each man became the source of terror to another. And an universal panic being diffused, reason and argument and common sense and common humanity lost all influence over them. From this disposition of men’s minds we are to account for the progress of the Popish Plot, and the credit given to it; an event, which would otherwise appear prodigious and altogether inexplicable.

. . . Notwithstanding these objections, great attention was paid to Oates’s evidence, and the plot became very soon the subject of conversation, and even the object of terror to the people. The violent animosity, which had been excited against the catholics in general, made the public swallow the grossest absurdities when they accompanied an accusation of those religionists: And the more diabolical any contrivance appeared, the better it suited the tremendous idea entertained of a Jesuit. Danby likewise, who stood in opposition to the French and catholic interest at court, was willing to encourage every story, which might serve to discredit that party. By his suggestion, when a warrant was signed for arresting Coleman, there was inserted a clause for seizing his papers; a circumstance attended with the most important consequences. . . .

. . . When the contents of these letters were publicly known, they diffused the panic, with which the nation began already to be seized on account of the popish plot. Men reasoned more from their fears and their passions than from the evidence before them. It is certain, that the restless and enterprizing spirit of the catholic church, particularly of the Jesuits, merits attention, and is, in some degree, dangerous to every other communion. Such zeal of proselytism actuates that sect, that its missionaries have penetrated into every nation of the globe; and, in one sense, there is a popish plot perpetually carrying on against all states, protestant, pagan, and mahometan. It is likewise very probable, that the conversion of the duke, and the favour of the king had inspired the catholic priests with new hopes of recovering in these islands their lost dominion, and gave fresh vigour to that intemperate zeal, by which they are commonly actuated. Their first aim was to obtain a toleration; and such was the evidence, they believed, of their theological tenets, that, could they but procure entire liberty, they must infallibly in time open the eyes of the people. After they had converted considerable numbers, they might be enabled, they hoped, to reinstate themselves in full authority, and entirely to suppress that heresy, with which the kingdom had so long been infected. Though these dangers to the protestant religion were distant, it was justly the object of great concern to find, that the heir of the crown was so blinded with bigotry, and so deeply engaged in foreign interests; and that the king himself had been prevailed on, from low interests, to hearken to his dangerous insinuations. Very bad consequences might ensue from such perverse habits and attachments; nor could the nation and parliament guard against them with too anxious a precaution. But that the Roman pontiff could hope to assume the sovereignty of these kingdoms; a project, which, even during the darkness of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, would have appeared chimerical: That he should delegate this authority to the Jesuits; that order in the Romish church, which was the most hated: That a massacre could be attempted of the protestants, who surpassed the catholics a hundred fold, and were invested with the whole authority of the state: That the king himself was to be assassinated, and even the duke, the only support [341] of their party: These were such absurdities as no human testimony was sufficient to prove; much less the evidence of one man, who was noted for infamy, and who could not keep himself, every moment, from falling into the grossest inconsistencies. Did such intelligence deserve even so much attention as to be refuted, it would appear, that Coleman’s letters were sufficient alone to destroy all its credit. For how could so long a train of correspondence be carried on, by a man so much trusted by the party; and yet no traces of insurrections, if really intended, of fires, massacres, assassinations, invasions, be ever discovered in any single passage of these letters? But all such reflections, and many more, equally obvious, were vainly employed against that general prepossession, with which the nation was seized. Oates’s plot and Coleman’s were universally confounded together: And the evidence of the latter being unquestionable, the belief of the former, aided by the passions of hatred and of terror, took possession of the whole people. . . .

General consternation.

. . . This clamour was quickly propagated, and met with universal belief. The panic spread itself on every side with infinite rapidity; and all men, astonished with fear, and animated with rage, saw in Godfrey’s fate all the horrible designs ascribed to the Catholics; and no farther doubt remained of Oates’s veracity. The voice of the nation united against that hated sect; and notwithstanding that the bloody conspiracy was supposed to be now detected, men could scarcely be persuaded, that their lives were yet in safety. Each hour teemed with new rumours and surmizes. Invasions from abroad, insurrections [342] at home, even private murthers and poisonings were apprehended. To deny the reality of the plot was to be an accomplice: To hesitate was criminal: Royalist, Republican; Churchman, Sectary; Courtier, Patriot; all parties concurred in the illusion. The city prepared for its defence, as if the enemy were at its gates: The chains and posts were put up: And it was a noted saying at that time of Sir Thomas Player, the chamberlain, that, were it not for these precautions, all the citizens might rise next morning with their throats cut. . . . In this disposition of the nation, reason could no more be heard than a whisper in the midst of the most violent hurricane. . . .

Popish plot.

It must be owned, that this extreme violence, in prosecution of so absurd an imposture, disgraces the noble cause of liberty, in which the parliament was engaged. We may even conclude from such impatience of contradiction, that the prosecutors themselves retained a secret suspicion, that the general belief was but ill grounded. The politicians among them were afraid to let in light, lest it might put an end to so useful a delusion: The weaker and less dishonest party took care, by turning their eyes aside, not to see a [362] truth, so opposite to those furious passions, by which they were actuated, and in which they were determined obstinately to persevere. . . .

— David Hume (1778), History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution of 1688
Vol. 6, Chapter LXVII, 332 et seq.

U.S. Out of Seattle

Shared Article from CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

‘Welcome to Free Capitol Hill’ — Capitol Hill Autonomous Z…

With reporting by Jake Goldstein-Street and Alex Garland The first night in the so-called Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that has formed in the wake of …

View all posts by jseattle → @ capitolhillseattle.com

Shared Article from Reason.com

Seattle Protesters Establish 'Autonomous Zone' Outside Evacuated…

Is the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone a brave experiment in self-government or just flash-in-the-pan activism?

C.J. Ciaramella @ reason.com

Disarm, Defund, Disband

Abolish the police.

Shared Article from Star Tribune

Most of Minneapolis City Council pledges to 'begin the process o…

"Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis police department cannot be reformed, and will never be accountable for its actions…

Liz Navratil @ startribune.com

The Self-Reproducing City and the New Division of Town and Country

Reading: William H. McNeill, Plagues and Peoples, Chapter VI, The Ecological Impact of Medical Science and Organization Since 1700

The usual Over My Shoulder rules apply:

  1. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, which should be more a matter of context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than they are a matter of discussing the material.

  2. Quoting a passage absolutely does not entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Anyway, here’s the quote. This is from Chapter VI, The Ecological Impact of Medical Science and Organization Since 1700, in William H. McNeill’s Plagues and Peoples (1976/1998). Like a lot of the work it’s a resolutely Malthusian exploration, and I think is both very usefully insightful and also of course a lot of wild oversimplification. But I marked it off as interesting because of the reflection on a changing relationship between town and country — not the fact of a division, which is as old as cities, but a shift in the terms of that division, and one possible sort of impact not only on the relationship between the two but on the endogenous development of cities themselves.

Chapter VI.

. . . Obviously, there was always a considerable lag between decision to introduce improved water and sewage systems and the completion of necessary engineering work. But by the end of the nineteenth century all major cities of the western world had done something to come up to the new level of sanitation and water management that had been pioneered in Great Britain, 1848-54. Urban life became far safer from disease than ever before as a result. Not merely cholera and typhoid but a host of less serious water-borne infections were reduced sharply. One of the major causes of infant mortality thereby trailed off towards statistical insignificance.

In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, cities seldom were capable of making sanitary water and sewage systems available to all the population; yet even there, as the risks of contaminated water became more widely known, simple precautions, like boiling drinking water, and periodical testing of water supplies for bacteriological contamination, introduced a quite effective guard against wholesale exposure to water-borne infections. Administrative systems were not always capable of sustaining an effective bacteriological watch, of course; and enforcement was even more difficult in many situations. But means and knowledge needed to escape large-scale outbreaks of lethal disease became almost universal. Indeed, when local epidemics of cholera or some other killing disease occurred, it soon became common for richer countries to finance international mobilization of medical experts to help local authorities in bringing the outbreak under control. Hence even in cities where a water-sewage circulatory system had never been installed, some of the benefits of public sanitation were swiftly brought to bear.

By 1900, therefore, for the first time since cities had come into existence almost five thousand years previously, the world’s urban populations became capable of maintaining themselves and even increasing in numbers without depending on in-migration from the countryside.[66] This was a fundamental change in age-old demographic relationships. Until the nineteenth century, cities had everywhere been population [pg]280[/pg] sumps, incapable of maintaining themselves without constant replenishment from a healthier countryside. It has been calculated, for example, that during the eighteenth century, when London’s Bills of Mortality permit reasonably accurate accountancy, deaths exceeded births by an average of 6,000 per annum. In the course of the century, London therefore required no less than 600,000 in-migrants for its mere maintenance. An even larger number of in-migrants was needed to permit the population increase that was a conspicuous feature of the city’s eighteenth-century history.[67]

Implications of this change are profound. As cities became capable of sustaining growing populations, older patterns of migration from rural to urban modes of life met new obstacles. Rural in-migrants had to compete with a more abundant, more thoroughly acculturated population of city-born individuals, capable of performing functions formerly relegated to newcomers from the countryside. Social mobility thereby became more difficult than in times when systematic urban die-off opened niches in the cities of the world for upwardly mobile individuals coming in from rural backgrounds. To be sure, in regions where industrial and commercial development proceeded rapidly, this new relation between country and city was masked by the fact that so many new occupations opened in urban contexts that there was room for city-born and rural in-migrants alike. In regions where industrialization has lagged, on the other hand, the problem of social mobility has already assumed visible form. In Latin America and Africa, for example, vast fringes of semi-rural slums commonly surround well-established cities. These are squatting grounds for migrants from the countryside who are seeking to become urban, yet cannot find suitable employment and so must eke out a marginal existence amid the most squalid poverty. Such settlements give visible form to the collision between traditional patterns of migration from the countryside and an urban population that no longer, as aforetime, withers away so as to accommodate the newcomers crowding at the gate.

— William H. McNeill (1976)
Plagues and Peoples, 279-280.

  1. [66]In Cairo, Egypt, for example, the birth rate was 44.1 per thousand, the death rate only 36.9 per thousand in 1913, the year before a modern sewage system was inaugurated in part of the city. Cf. Robert Tignor, Public Health Administration in Egypt under British Rule, 1882-1914 (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Yale University, 1960), pp. 115-21.
  2. [67]C. Fraser Brockington, World Health, 2nd ed. (Boston, 1968), p. 99.
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