The Door Opens to Black Troops

1210 Chestnut Street - 1863The 54th Massachusetts Regiment

Lincoln was in full accord with this drive to build black regiments. Though he had initially resisted proposals to arm blacks, he was now totally dedicated. He urged Banks, Hunter and Grant to speed the enlisting process and implored Governor Andrew Johnson of Tennessee to raise black troops. “The colored population is the great available and yet unavailable of, forces for restoring the Union,” Lincoln wrote. “The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.” (Salmon P.) Chase, who had argued more strongly than any other cabinet member for black soldiers, took great satisfaction in Lincoln’s newfound commitment. “The President is now thoroughly in earnest in this business,” he wrote a friend, “& sees it much as I saw it nearly two years ago.”

Ref.: Goodwin, D. K. Team of Rivals Chap 21, pg 549

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