Bill Nye, the infamous “science guy,” received a prompt history lesson on Sunday after claiming that slavery in America officially ended on Juneteenth.
What did Nye say?
In an effort to commemorate the newest national holiday, Nye claimed on Twitter that America was “built” on slave labor and that “the last” slaves were freed on June 19, 1865.
“The United States we know today was built with the labor of enslaved Black Americans,” Nye wrote. “The last were not freed (officially) until 19 June 1865. Let us celebrate— and never forget.”
Nye, famous for an educational science TV show, posted a picture of himself holding a pocket Constitution along with his commemorative message.
— Bill Nye (@Bill Nye)
But what is the problem?
While historians and Americans may debate whether the Untied States was built on the back of slave labor, the last enslaved Americans were not freed on Juneteenth.
In fact, the last American slaves were not officially freed until December 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified and officially proclaimed, thus ending slavery “except as a punishment for crime.” An estimated 40,000–45,000 remaining slaves in two states — Kentucky and Delaware — were freed at that time.
Juneteenth, on the other hand, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved people in Texas, which happened on June 19, 1865 — almost six months before slavery was constitutionally outlawed.
In response to his tweet, Nye was inundated with these facts:
“Bill Nye might be a science communicator, but hes a s*** historian
The slaves freed at Galveston in June 1865 were freed under the Emancipation Proclamation
It wasnt until the 13th amendment was ratified in December of 1865 that the last slaves were freed in KY and DE,” one person
“This is not true. Juneteenth doesn’t commemorate the 13th Amendment. It commemorates news of the Emancipation Proclamation reaching Texas. Two union states had slavery until December 1865,” another person said.
“He’s as much of a historian as he is a scientist. And makes up just as much nonsense for both subjects. It’s almost amazing how wrong he constantly is,” one person mocked.
“Please open that and let us what date the 13th amendment was ratified into the constitution that ended slavery once and for all.
Hint: it’s not June 19th…..,” another person
“Tell me you can’t do a simple Google search without telling me you can’t do a simple Google search,” another person mocked.
“Dec 6, 1865. That’s when the 13th Amendment went into effect and slavery in Delaware and Kentucky also ended. Read that thing you’re holding up,” another person said.
Interestingly, Mississippi became the last state to ratify the 13th Amendment, doing so in 1995. However, the ratification was not officially certified until 2013 — nearly 150 years after slavery ended.