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arm, and still have some hope in the integrity of our rulers. Nevertheless I
must for the present leave to others the work of persuading colored men to
join the Union army. I owe it to my long-abused people, and especially to
those already in the army, to expose their wrongs and plead their cause. I
cannot do that in connection with recruiting. When I plead for recruits I want
to do it with all my heart, without qualification. I cannot do that now. The
impression settles upon me that colored men have much over-rated the
enlightenment, justice, and generosity of our rulers at Washington. In my
humble way I have contributed somewhat to that false estimate. You know
that when the idea of raising colored troops was first suggested, the special
duty to be assigned them, was the garrisoning of forts and arsenals in certain
warm, unhealthy, and miasmatic localities in the South. They were thought
to be better adapted to that service than white troops. White troops trained to
war, brave, and daring, were to take fortifications, and the blacks were to
hold them from falling again into the hands of the rebels. Three advantages
were to arise out of this wise division of labor: 1st, The spirit and pride of
white troops was not to waste itself in dull monotonous inactivity in fort life;
their arms were to be kept bright by constant use. 2d, The health of white
troops was to be preserved. 3d, Black troops were to have the advantage of
sound military training and to be otherwise useful, at the same time that they
should be tolerably secure from capture by the rebels, who early avowed
their determination to enslave and slaughter them in defiance of the laws of
war. Two out of the three advantages were to accrue to the white troops. Thus
far, however, I believe that no such duty as holding fortifications has been
committed to colored troops. They have done far other and more important
work than holding fortifications. I have no special complaint to make at this
point, and I simply mention it to strengthen the statement, that from the
beginning of this business it was the confident belief among both the colored
and white friends or colored enlistments that President Lincoln as commander-
in-chief of the army and navy, would certainly see to it that his
colored troops should be so handled and disposed of as to be but little
exposed to capture by the rebels, and that, if so exposed, as they have repeatedly
been from the first, the President possessed both the disposition and the
means for compelling the rebels to respect the rights of such as might fall
into their hands. The piratical proclamation of Jefferson Davis, announcing
slavery and assassination to colored prisoners was before the country and the
world. But men had faith in Mr. Lincoln and his advisers. He was silent to
be sure, but charity suggested that being a man of action rather than words
he only waited for a case in which he should be required to act. This faith in

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