Say What? Dear Mr. President . . .

DBF

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 6, 2016
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Buffalo New York resident Hannah Johnson (with encouragement from her friend) wrote a letter to President Lincoln expressing her concerns over the treatment of the black soldiers at the hands of Confederate soldiers. Her anxiety was magnified by the fact that her son was serving in the Union Army and she was well aware of the potential harm that could come to her son if he were captured by the enemy. Historic is her letter for as the daughter of a former slave living in a time when her citizenship was still in question, as well as her status as an African-American woman, she addressed the man holding the highest level of power in the United States government. Her letter follows:

“Excellent Sir My good friend says I must write to you and she will send it. My father was a Slave and escaped from Louisiana before I was born morn forty years agone I have but poor edication but I never went to schol, but I know just as well as any what is right between man and man. Now I know it is right that a colored man should go and fight for his country, and so ought to a white man. I know that a colored man ought to run no greater risques than a white, his pay is no greater his obligation to fight is the same. So why should not our enemies be compelled to treat him the same, Made to do it.

My son fought at Fort Wagoner but thank God he was not taken prisoner, as many were I thought of this thing before I let my boy go but then they said Mr. Lincoln will never let them sell our colored soldiers for slaves, if they do he will get them back quck he will rettallyate and stop it. Now Mr Lincoln dont you think you oght to stop this thing and make them do the same by the colored men they have lived in idleness all their lives on stolen labor and made savages of the colored people, but they now are so furious because they are proving themselves to be men, such as have come away and got some edication. It must not be so. You must put the rebels to work in State prisons to making shoes and things, if they sell our colored soldiers, till they let them all go. And give their wounded the same treatment. it would seem cruel, but their no other way, and a just man must do hard things sometimes, that shew him to be a great man. They tell me some do you will take back the Proclamation, don't do it. When you are dead and in Heaven, in a thousand years that action of yours will make the Angels sing your praises I know it. Ought one man to own another, law for or not, who made the law, surely the poor slave did not. so it is wicked, and a horrible Outrage, there is no sense in it, because a man has lived by robbing all his life and his father before him, should he complain because the stolen things found on him are taken. Robbing the colored people of their labor is but a small part of the robbery their souls are almost taken, they are made bruits of often. You know all about this

Will you see that the colored men fighting now, are fairly treated. You ought to do this, and do it at once, Not let the thing run along meet it quickly and manfully, and stop this, mean cowardly cruelty. We poor oppressed ones, appeal to you, and ask fair play.

Yours for Christs sake
Hannah Johnson”


[In another handwriting] Hon. Mr. Lincoln The above speaks for itself Carrie Coburn
{1}

It is unknown if the President ever saw her letter but one thing is certain. Hannah Johnson may not have had a vote - - but she had a voice - - and on July 31, 1863 she used her voice. What a courageous letter from a mother with no formal education as she appealed to the most powerful man in the Union to give fair and equal treatment to her beloved son as he fights for his country.​



* * * * *




Sources
1. http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/hjohnsn.htm
2.
https://gazette665.com/2018/07/30/1863-my-son-went-in-the-54th-regiment/
(**) “The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” by Rick Reeves United States National Guard, March 3, 2004. This image or file is a work of a U.S. National Guard member or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.
 

Leigh Cole

Private
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
Monroe, MI

Buffalo New York resident Hannah Johnson (with encouragement from her friend) wrote a letter to President Lincoln expressing her concerns over the treatment of the black soldiers at the hands of Confederate soldiers. Her anxiety was magnified by the fact that her son was serving in the Union Army and she was well aware of the potential harm that could come to her son if he were captured by the enemy. Historic is her letter for as the daughter of a former slave living in a time when her citizenship was still in question, as well as her status as an African-American woman, she addressed the man holding the highest level of power in the United States government. Her letter follows:

“Excellent Sir My good friend says I must write to you and she will send it. My father was a Slave and escaped from Louisiana before I was born morn forty years agone I have but poor edication but I never went to schol, but I know just as well as any what is right between man and man. Now I know it is right that a colored man should go and fight for his country, and so ought to a white man. I know that a colored man ought to run no greater risques than a white, his pay is no greater his obligation to fight is the same. So why should not our enemies be compelled to treat him the same, Made to do it.

My son fought at Fort Wagoner but thank God he was not taken prisoner, as many were I thought of this thing before I let my boy go but then they said Mr. Lincoln will never let them sell our colored soldiers for slaves, if they do he will get them back quck he will rettallyate and stop it. Now Mr Lincoln dont you think you oght to stop this thing and make them do the same by the colored men they have lived in idleness all their lives on stolen labor and made savages of the colored people, but they now are so furious because they are proving themselves to be men, such as have come away and got some edication. It must not be so. You must put the rebels to work in State prisons to making shoes and things, if they sell our colored soldiers, till they let them all go. And give their wounded the same treatment. it would seem cruel, but their no other way, and a just man must do hard things sometimes, that shew him to be a great man. They tell me some do you will take back the Proclamation, don't do it. When you are dead and in Heaven, in a thousand years that action of yours will make the Angels sing your praises I know it. Ought one man to own another, law for or not, who made the law, surely the poor slave did not. so it is wicked, and a horrible Outrage, there is no sense in it, because a man has lived by robbing all his life and his father before him, should he complain because the stolen things found on him are taken. Robbing the colored people of their labor is but a small part of the robbery their souls are almost taken, they are made bruits of often. You know all about this

Will you see that the colored men fighting now, are fairly treated. You ought to do this, and do it at once, Not let the thing run along meet it quickly and manfully, and stop this, mean cowardly cruelty. We poor oppressed ones, appeal to you, and ask fair play.

Yours for Christs sake
Hannah Johnson”


[In another handwriting] Hon. Mr. Lincoln The above speaks for itself Carrie Coburn
{1}

It is unknown if the President ever saw her letter but one thing is certain. Hannah Johnson may not have had a vote - - but she had a voice - - and on July 31, 1863 she used her voice. What a courageous letter from a mother with no formal education as she appealed to the most powerful man in the Union to give fair and equal treatment to her beloved son as he fights for his country.​



* * * * *




Sources
1. http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/hjohnsn.htm
2.
https://gazette665.com/2018/07/30/1863-my-son-went-in-the-54th-regiment/
(**) “The Old Flag Never Touched the Ground” by Rick Reeves United States National Guard, March 3, 2004. This image or file is a work of a U.S. National Guard member or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain in the United States.
Excellent article! Thank you for posting this.
 
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