Lincoln's View of the participation of blacks after the Civil War

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wbull1

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President Lincoln’s thinking about participation of blacks in American society was revealed in a letter he wrote General James A. Wadsworth, an abolitionist Republican from New York, in early January 1864:

You desire to know, in the event of our complete success in the field, the same being followed by a loyal and cheerful submission on the part of the South, if universal amnesty should not be accompanied with universal suffrage.

Now, since you know my private inclinations as to what terms should be granted to the South in the contingency mentioned, I will here add, that if our success should thus be realized, followed by such desired results, I cannot see, if universal amnesty is granted, how, under the circumstances, I can avoid exacting in return universal suffrage, or, at least, suffrage on the basis of intelligence and military service.

How to better the condition of the colored race has long been a study which has attracted my serious and careful attention; hence I think I am clear and decided as to what course I shall pursue in the premises, regarding it a religious duty, as the nation’s guardian of these people, who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle-field, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic, they have demonstrated in blood their right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the flag they have so fearlessly defended.

The restoration of the Rebel States to the Union must rest upon the principle of civil and political equality of both races; and it must be sealed by general amnesty.
 

Lubliner

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@wbull1, I notice the number of USCT organizations being withheld from mustering out at the end of the war, and did not know the official status involved in the decision. Do you know if these troops were being kept by Lincoln's authority, or was it an Army decision based on some further form of servitude to earn suffrage and equality?
Thanks, Lubliner.
 
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wbull1

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@wbull1, I notice the number of USCT organizations being withheld from mustering out at the end of the war, and did not know the official status involved in the decision. Do you know if these troops were being kept by Lincoln's authority, or was it an Army decision based on some further form of servitude to earn suffrage and equality?
Thanks, Lubliner.

Thanks for the question. It got me to look into the matter. Apparently, the French in Mexico had sent black troops from Egypt to that country to back up the puppet regime there. General Joe Hooker had recommended that black American soldiers might be used if the United States had to intervene in Mexico to restore the democratic government. Due to the success of black Union soldiers, European countries included more soldiers of color in their armed forces, which I had not known before. Disbanding of the Union army, except for units decimated by fighting, started after Lincoln's assassination. The war continued for some time after he died.
 
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Lubliner

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Your welcome, @wbull1. After seeing your accomplishment on publication of your book on Lincoln, I thought you would be a good source. Then of course, the actual commitment of USCT was after the fact, as you point out, and possibly beyond the scope of your focused studies. I still believed it could be an interest anyway, and my endeavors to find whether the orders from the war department were gained by congressional activity, or presidential for that matter, failed. (That is an interesting aside to General Hooker, and many colored troops were given duty in Texas, I understand, after the war). Still, noticing the direct orders being passed among the chiefs were explicit in their direction to keep the USCT in active readiness, I wonder if a committee had formulated a policy hand in hand with the Freedman's Bureau, or if it had been a strictly military venture. Thank you for your response.
Lubliner.
 

Lubliner

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Again we see the vital role the USCT played gaining citizenship for African Americans. "Who have heroically vindicated their manhood."
I believe @wbull1 had a correct answer, though I cannot find a date, and there is more than one answer most likely. I tend to think the Army wanted to try more diverse roles for the USCT; similar to how they test weaponry. "Tried and True." [TNT].
 
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jackt62

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"And then [when peace comes], there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with indignant heart and deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it."

Abraham Lincoln, 1863
 

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Hon. Michael Hahn

My dear Sir:

I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as the first—free—state Governor of Louisiana. Now you are about to have a Convention which, among other things, will probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some of the colored people may not be let in—as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone.

Yours truly

A. LINCOLN

[Abraham Lincoln to Gov. Michael Hahn of Louisiana, 13 March 1864]
 

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"The amount of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana government rests, would be more satisfactory to all, if it contained fifty, thirty, or even twenty thousand, instead of only about twelve thousand, as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers."

[Abraham Lincoln, "Last Public Address," 11 April 1865]
 
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Lusty Murfax

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Its good to know Lincoln's unconditional and public support of the former Negro slaves receiving full citizenship rights, so long as they were very intelligent and fought gallantly for the Union.
 

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Its good to know Lincoln's unconditional and public support of the former Negro slaves receiving full citizenship rights, so long as they were very intelligent and fought gallantly for the Union.
As opposed to confederates who didn't want them to have any rights whatsoever.
 
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Lubliner

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I had not realized until recently the deep and strong belief of 'all men created equal' in the northern clamor for boundaries, and abolition. To accept the conscience of the northern states brought self-condemnation and hypocrisy to the southern mind. Worse even yet was the lame claim made about Egypt and the Jews in the Bible, by none other than Alexander Stevens at the beginning of the affair.
But what to do with all these set free? Lincoln understood that dilemma, and even southerners were panic-stricken over the upheaval and loss to their society and way of life. If I was southern then with the predicament and onslaught facing me directly, I would fight. If northern, I would abstain, possibly, if the south had done me no harm.
 
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