Biden on emancipation: ‘Finally, the message got to Texas’

Vice President Biden said Wednesday at a ceremony honoring abolitionist Frederick Douglass that it  "took a long time" for emancipation to make its way to Texas.

Speaking at  a ceremony unveiling a statue of Douglass in the U.S. Capitol, Biden talked about how Wednesday's Juneteenth holiday honors the day Texas became the last state to learn the Civil War -- and by extension, slavery -- was over.

"Today, we celebrate the anniversary, as Speaker Pelosi pointed out, of the victory over slavery is June 13th," Biden said, appearing to mix up his dates. "Finally, the message got to Texas."

Biden then caught himself as someone in the audience appeared to react negatively to his choice of words.

"I didn't mean it the way that sounded. It just took time. It took a long time to get to Delaware too," he said.

Juneteenth honors the date in 1865 when Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to announce the end of the war. It marked the official end of slavery, nearly three years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

While other former Confederate states ratified the 13th Amendment that same year, Texas waited until after it was enacted, ratifying it in 1870.

Biden's home state of Delaware was the next state to ratify it after-the-fact, doing so in 1901. (Delaware was a slave state before the Civil War, though it did not vote to secede from the Union.)

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.
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