Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we created “Q & Abe” – a podcast that investigates real questions from visitors to the Cottage. This bonus episode accompanies the second episode of Season 5, “How fast did emancipation happen?”
As we talk to our guests about their expertise for the show, we sometimes end up with things that don’t quite fit in the main episode, but we don’t think that should keep you all from hearing them. Greg Downs recounted other emancipation celebrations you may not have heard of, and General Blanchard ran us through how the National Guard’s timeline for deployment works.
You can find the episode embedded below or on Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Stitcher / Google Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts. You also can read below for a transcript of the episode (coming soon!)
Joan Cummins: Hi everyone! This is Joan and Callie from Q&Abe, a podcast by President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Callie Hawkins: As we talk to our guests about their expertise for the show, we sometimes end up with things that don’t quite fit in the main episode, but we don’t think that that should keep you all from hearing them.
JC: This bonus episode accompanies episode 5.2, How fast did emancipation happen?, so if you haven’t listened to that one yet, it might be a good place to start.
CH: As you probably already know, Juneteenth recently became a national holiday celebrating the end of slavery. Greg Downs, one of the historians we spoke with for that episode, recounted for us other emancipation celebrations that you might not have heard of.
Greg Downs: So if Juneteenth is not the definitive end, are there other things that are cele- celebrated as the ends in these local, regional ways? And that’s absolutely true, and something that people, often, you know, have sort of only mild engagement with. The coastal Carolinas’ Watch Night, which is pretty commonly celebrated, though not always in an emancipation context in some black communities. But in Coastal Carolina, Watch Night, and the 31st – December 31st into the 1st – which is tied to the celebration of the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation. And so that’s a really powerful moment. In Tennessee, in parts of Southern Kentucky, 8th of August is celebrated as an emancipation day because of ties to changes there. There’s arguments that we should think about the Black celebrations of July 4th in Vicksburg, which of course is the day that Vicksburg surrenders to the US during the Civil War, as an Emancipation Day ceremony, including the fact that most white Vicksburgians don’t participate in it until the 1950s. They also understand it as this particular day, not just a generic national holiday. Memorial Day in Charleston, in some ways is an Emancipation Day celebration. It, it helps to remind us in the big picture, slavery is a massive institution, 4 million people, largest capital input into the US economy.
JC: And, since we wanted to know about how fast things can happen, Brigadier General Leland Blanchard told us in more depth about how the National Guard’s timeline for deployment works.
General Leland Blanchard: So every National Guard has a full-time force. So, there’s always soldiers and airmen that are, that are working. And from there it becomes a matter of, I hate to say it, but it kind of depends, right? So think of it a couple of different ways. So we’ll think of it as a planned operation. And when I say that, think of, back in December, the president hosted the African Leaders Summit. That was a pre-planned, everyone knew that was happening. You’ve got dignitaries coming in from around Africa. And so we work very closely with the local agencies. They give us a heads up, Hey, these are some of the things that we may need some assistance with… We kinda, I’m, I’m oversimplifying it. Let’s just suffice to say there’s some, there’s some meetings that, that occur. A lot of discussions. But ultimately it’s really about trying to figure out how do we best serve the community, meet the needs, uh, and make sure that the president – in that particular case – is going to have what, what he needs to, to host a very successful summit. You can even compare a hurricane, which is something you know that’s coming. Let’s say you’re the governor of a coastal state. You’re gonna start looking at, Hey, where is it gonna land? Is it city? What, you know, what kind of challenges could that bring? What’s the population center? What are some of the needs? And then the governor’s gonna, gonna sit down with his leadership team and they’re going to figure out, what level of response are we going to need? And then they’ll call the National Guard, they’ll call the adjutant general. They’ll typically reach out to neighboring states, the neighboring states – of course, you’re not gonna wanna pull from one state that’s got a need, that’s also gonna be impacted by that storm. So you may reach out to a Nebraska or an Oklahoma and they may send forces. So that’s an example of, say, that’s several days to a week or two weeks where people know, know something bad is going to happen. If you contrast that to again, an earthquake. There is absolutely no opportunity to sit down and plan. So you have this, uh, you have this operation that then begins, uh, to occur, where you’re doing the assessment as you’re, as you’re really responding. And so, again, I would say it’s, it’s pretty awesome, the skills and the, the things that we can bring to that response. Uh, whether it is very short notice or whether you’ve got a, you know, several days to kind of plan through it. And then, like anything else we do in the military, kind of like life, uh, the more time you got to plan for a vacation, the more detailed, you know, you’re really gonna be able to put together a good itinerary and you’re gonna know everything that you’re gonna do. The same is true of a response to an operation. The less time you have the plan, the more you’re gonna kinda work through and figure it out. And that’s, that’s where I go back to that training, the training to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Because typically you’re gonna ask these young men and women to be out on the ground figuring it out as they go along. We saw on 9/11 there were Guardsmen who were at the Pentagon in their civilian job, working there as, uh, government employees that were responding. Now, they didn’t stop and put on a uniform, but I would say that that’s the fabric of what a, what a citizen soldier is, is when they see a need, they go running to that point of need, and they do their best to help their, their fellow citizens. And they just jump in, and from there we kinda, we kind of get, get the machine going if you will. And so there’s a process, but I, I can tell you people worked through it quickly. I never fail to be amazed by the things people will figure out when their community and when their nation is in need.
JC: I know I’m in awe of people who plan for disasters, and really appreciate the work that goes into that kind of readiness.
CH: Thanks for listening, and please subscribe to stay up to date with the show! We’ll see you again in a week with our next full episode.
JC: This episode was produced by me, Joan Cummins, with Callie Hawkins and support from the President Lincoln’s Cottage team. Music for Q&Abe was written, performed, and is copyrighted by Clancy Newman.
CH: Q&Abe is made possible by listeners like you. You can support the show by joining Team Lincoln at www.lincolncottage.org, where you can also check out our other online and in-person programming. You can reach us at [email protected].
JC: President Lincoln’s Cottage is a home for brave ideas. Stay curious!