February 1st

On February 1st in the year 1835, slavery was abolished in the island nation of Mauritius*.  The island was under British control at the time, after wresting control from the French in 1810, who took it in 1715 after the Dutch lost interest in it, only after the Portuguese abandoned it first.

Exactly 25 years after slavery was abolished on the small island nation off the south east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean, on the other side of the world on February 1st, 1861, a State Convention meeting in Austin, Texas voted to secede from the United States of America.   Texas may have been only one state to secede, and not even the first, but it was crucial to the Confederate cause.  With ports on the east coast blocked off by the Union army, shipping lanes for the South to move men, munitions and goods were cut off.  But Texas was able to go through Mexico to trade outside of the States, and use the Mississippi River to move goods up through the South during the first couple of years of the Civil War, which within three months of the State Convention in Austin would be in full swing, marking perhaps the darkest period in American history.

But again on February 1, four years later now in 1865, President Lincoln approved and signed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which stated:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

There are ups and downs, victories and defeats in every journey.  Some of the ups may feel victory, like the war is won.  And some of the downs may seem devastating.  Things may seem to be lost and there is no bouncing back, but on February 1st we see that nothing is done so long as there is still fight left.  We can always pick ourselves back up to achieve something worthwhile enough to keep fighting for.

 

* Not to be confused with Mauritania, or the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country in North Africa, which was the last country in the world to abolish slavery in 1981.

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