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Speech of the Hon. William Allen, of Ohio, on the Enlistment of Negro Soldiers; Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 2, 1863

they become free.  Even if the owner proves his          as to the result; if there has been dissatisfaction
loyalty, the military officer cannot decide the          among the people and soldiers there, that dissatis-
question of loyalty, and civil process is ineffect-      faction might now have been by the force of the
ual to reach them.  The consequence is, as de-           Union sentiment in those States strengthened into
signed by the bills, that slaves of loyal as well as     a general revolt, producing a general defeat of the
disloyal owners are inveigled into the camps, and        plans of those who have inaugurated and carried
the owners, finding all efforts to reclaim them un-      on the rebellion.  If, as our troops advanced into
successful, are forced to abandon pursuit.  These        southern territory, the policy of the Government
laws are sufficient, if they could be executed, to       had been as first enunciated, and all unnecessary
free every slave in the slave States; but they are       interference with private property had been ab-
a dead letter, except in the immediate vicinity of       stained from by our Army, the tendency would
the Army.  They disclose, however, the purposes          have been to undeceive and bring to our sup-
and bad faith of the party who enacted them.             port those whom the leaders of the rebellion had
   In addition to these legislative enactments eman-      deluded into its support.
cipating slaves in various forms, we have the proc-        But every act of the Government on this ques-
lamation of the President, issued on the first day       tion, and many of the acts of our military com-
of the present year, by which he undertakes,under        manders, have served only to strengthen the con-
the fallacy of his war power, at one fell swoop to       viction not only of the people of the South, but
emancipate the slaves in ten of the States without       of many of the North, that this war is waged to
regard to the loyalty or disloyalty of their owners      advance personal and political interests, and for
In addition to these acts and proclamations, orders      the destruction of the rights and institutions of
have been issued by military commanders as to the        the States.  But this party was organized on the
confiscation of property, which serve as a license       basis of the negro, has lived and grown into power
to unprincipled men in the Army to annoy un-             upon the negro, and it will go down with the ne-
offending citizens in their vicinity, to steal and de-   gro, if the country goes with it.  It has presented
stroy private property and insult unprotected fe-        for the admiration of the American people the
males, all of which is with in the spirit of these acts  negro in nearly every attitude which it was thought
and proclamations, if not within their literal inter-    might win popular favor, and the last act in the
pretation; their tendency is to encourage reckless       great "drama" is the negro playing soldier. The
soldiers to disregard the rules of civilized warfare     party first began by arousing the sympathies of
by invading the homesteads of the unprotected,           the white people in the North in behalf of the
appropriating their property, and insulting them         oppressed slave, and by arraying northern preju-
with impunity, which they suppose they may do            dice against slaveholders.   The cruelties of the
under color of confiscating the property of and          institution were portrayed in every possible man-
"punishing rebels;" a term which this class of           ner, from the pulpit, from the rostrum, through
persons in the Army, few in number it is to be           the press, and through all the channels of public
hoped, apply to all who happen to possess prop-          information.  And such were the manifestations
erty which they desire to enjoy.  Such persons           of sympathy by these pretended philanthropists,
have no rights which such soldiers feel bound to         and the earnest appeals which they made in be-
respect, and men who are afraid to be thieves at         half of the slave, and their denunciations of slave-
home, become so when stealing takes the name of          holders, that they succeeded in infusing into the
"confiscation."                                          public mind an intense sympathy and solicitude
   Now, as the climax of this legislation and these       for this unfortunate race; men became partially
proclamations and military orders, it is proposed        insale on this subject, and were willing to hazard
to arm and equip for five years as soldiers such         their lives, if need be, to ameliorate the condition
number of negroes as the President may think             of a few slaves.  John Brown became a martyr
proper, for the purpose, as alleged, of fighting the     in the attempt to lead a few of them out of their
battles of the country. After such a policy as has       servitude in Virginia. The fugitive slave law was
thus been pursued by the President and his party,        violated and its execution resisted in many in-
who is there North or South that can vindicate           stances throughout the North, for the purpose of
either against the charge of abolitionism or against     aiding in his flight to Canada here and there a
any of the charges to which I have referred? Why,        fugitive from slavery. A whole community, some-
the leaders of the party will scarcely deny these        times the whole country, was thrown into excite-
charges; certainly they cannot do so successfully;       ment at the attempt to return to servitude one of
they can only repel them by applying that po-            these fugitives.
tent and oft-repeated argument of "rebel sympa-            What has become of all that sympathy and loud
thizers" to those who attempt to point out their         philanthropy? When it is now proposed to make
errors and inconsistencies, and who are unwilling        breastworks of this population to receive the en-
to aid them in emancipating and elevating the            emy's fire to save our own soldiers; to place them
negro at the expense of the rights of the white          in the front ranks of the Army to be shot down,
race.                                                    or, if overpowered, to be carried again into sla-
  Sir, if the war had been conducted on the pol-         very of a more cruel character, or perhaps, which
icy and for the object first announced by the Pres-      is more probable, to be massacred without cere-
ident and for a time acquiesced in by Congress,          mony; for it is very certain that the people of the
the Union sentiment which the President declared         southern States, whose feelings and education are
in his message existed in all the States, instead        so averse to the equality of the races, will never
of being crushed out in the seceded States, as I         recognize or treat them as prisoners of war when
fear it is, might by this time have been able to         captured by them in the ranks of our Army.  Nor
counteract the efforts of the leaders of secession.      can we compel them to so treat them.  It is said
If, according to reports, there has been an indiffer-    we "can retaliate on their soldiers which we may
ence among many of the people in those States            take as prisoners for all indignities offered our col-


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Speech of the Hon. William Allen, of Ohio, on the Enlistment of Negro Soldiers; Delivered in the House of Representatives, February 2, 1863


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