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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


ored soldiers."  Unless we are more fortunate in       it is thought addresses itself to sympathy for the
taking prisoners than we have been since this war      white race rather than that of the black.
began, we will have enough to do to insure, by           But those who believe that any serious attempt
retaliation, the proper treatment of our white sol-    will be made to use these negro soldiers to fight
diers when they fall into southern hands.  The         against slaveholders will be deceived.  They will
prisoners taken by the confederates have fre-          never be brought in such close proximity to their
quently been in excess of those taken by our Army;     former masters, as they might again fall into their
and attempts at retaliation would fall disastrously    hands, and into slavery.  They will therefore be
upon the heads of our unfortunate soldiers taken       kept at a respectful distance from them; perhaps
prisoners.  If the friends of this measure are sin-    in the free border States, where, in certain locali-
cere when they announce the policy of placing          ties, they may be used to control elections while
negro soldiers in the front of the battles to pro-     white soldiers are absent and deprived of the elect-
tect white soldiers, they have lost much of that       ive franchise; or, if quartered in slave States, it
professed sympathy for the race when they would        will only be to aid in enticing slaves from their
now march them out of their present condition          owners, either into the ranks of the Army to draw
to the mouth of the cannon and point of the            pay of the Government as soldiers, or to be quar-
bayonet.                                               tered in some secure place, under the auspices of
  But it is not to be supposed for a moment that       superintendents appointed to provide for their
this class of persons, if armed and equipped as        wants.
provided in the bill, will ever be used in any man-      If the bill becomes a law in its present shape, re-
ner to relieve white soldiers in the Army. A party     cruiting stations will be established at secure points
who devotes its entire energies in providing for the   in the slave States, where the people, whether loyal
black race at the expense of and to the neglect of     or not, will be subjected to all the annoyances, in-
the white race, will not be likely to place the ne-    sults, and depredations that might reasonably be
gro in any such perilous position. It is not prob-     expected from negro soldiers under negro recruit-
able that commanding officers who permit ambu-         ing officers. The business of such officers will be
lances and army wagons to be used to aid "con-         to entice into the ranks of the Army all the slaves
trabands" in their exodus from the South, while        they can; each slave taking with him as much of
weary, exhausted white soldiers march on foot,         his master's property as he can, to become the
would place these contrabands in the front ranks       common booty of his new master and associates.
of the Army for the purpose stated; or that a de-      And thus by an organized system, at the public
partmernt of the Government that feeds, clothes,       expense, the work of emancipation and confisca-
and provides so amply for fifty or sixty thousand      tion will go on as fast at least as white soldiers
of these persons, who, in the language of the          can drive back the confederates.  Such, it seems
President, "do nothing but eat," while our white       to me, is evidently the only end that this bill will
soldiers are frequently on half rations, and their     accomplish.  No negroes in the free States will
families at home suffering from want, would place      offer their services to these new regiments; they
the negro in any hazardous position for the pur-       will be composed entirely of fugitive slaves.
pose of shielding the white man from harm.               But what a gloomy hope is presented by this
  Sir, this gasconade about relieving white sol-       bill in other respects!  These soldiers are to be
diers by substituting negroes, is another attempt      raised for five years, and maintained that length
to humbug the people by presenting the negro, as       of time at the public expense, eating up the sub-
I have said, in a new attitude--one which is de-       stance of the nation.  When are we to expect
signed to appeal to self-interest instead of sym-      peace if such an army as this is yet to be organ-
pathy.  It is known that there is a dissatisfaction    inzed (and which may not in that time be fully

among soldiers in the Army, and among their            organized) before a peace is conquered on the
friends, on account of the policy of the Govern-       terms of the radicals? Is the war thus to continue,
ment, which gives so much attention to the wants       and these soldiers to be the guardians of our liber-
of the negro, while the wants and desires of the       ties in the future?  If such is the case, farewell
soldier in the field are not regarded.  It is          to all constitutional liberty, to all free government,
known that since the advance of our Army in            and to all those inestimable rights which we, as
some sections of the country the prejudice instilled   freemen, have hitherto enjoyed.
in the minds of our soldiers against slaveholders,       Sir, while these soldiers can be of no service in
by this fanatical party, has more or less disap-       suppressing the existing rebellion, they may be-
peared; that when they have seen the institution       come potent in the hands of tyrants in crushing
as it is, and sometimes witnessed the contrast         out our own liberties.  At one time it was feared
between the treatment of the negro and that re-        by some that the present formidable Army might
ceived by themselves, they have denounced the          be used for the establishment of a despotism,and
abolitionists of the country, who would sacrifice      be wielded by a tyrant for the subversion of lib-
the life of the soldier for sake of the negro; that    erty and the erection of a monarchy.  But it
the "holy hatred" of slaveholders which fanatics       is now evident it never can.  The manly inde-
have attempted to infuse into their minds and          pendence, intelligence, and ardent love of liberty
those of the people is rebounding against its au-      which characterize those now in the military ser-
thors; that a deep feeling of dislike for those who    vice will ever prevent them from being instru-
have been wasting the lives and fortunes of the        ments in the hands of tyrants for the enslavement
people for the benefit of the negroes and them-        of their countrymen.  But, with the disposition
selves is taking hold of the public mind, and the      now manifested by those in power to ignore the
people of the country are unwilling to give up         rights of Stats and the rights of citizens, and
their "loved ones" to be thus sacrificed to the        to trample down all the safeguards of liberty
"abolition deity."  Hence this new attempt to          provided by the Constitution, which is the bond
gain favor among the people, by a measure which        of our Union and the charter of our liberties, what


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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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