Every aggression, every act of injustice committed by a Northern man against unoffending fugitives from despotism, every insult offered by the base prejudice of our race to a colored man because of his African descent, is not only a breach of humanity, an offense against civilization, but is also an act which gives aid and comfort to the enemy. The report of it goes abroad, penetrates into the enemy's country. So far as its influence there extends, the effect if to deter the slave from leaving his master, therefore to secure to that master a bread producer and by the same act to deprive the Union of a colored soldier, and compel the Government, by conscription, to withdraw a laborer from a Northern farm.
The practical effect, therefore, of abuse and injury to colored people in these days is not alone to disgrace the authors of such acts, but to compel conscription and to strip the North, already scant of working hands, of the laborers and the artisans the remain to her. Thousands of fields owned by white men may be made desolate, all as the direct result of the ill-treatment of the colored race.
Such a spirit is not treasonable in the usual sense of that tern, yet its results are the same as these of treason itself. If becomes, therefore, in a military point of view, of the highest importance that all wanton acts of aggression by soldiers or civilians, whether against refugees or against free negroes heretofore settled in the north should be promptly and resolutely repressed and the penalties of the law in every such case vigorously enforced. A prudent regard for our own safety and welfare,if no higher motive prompt, demands the taking of such precaution.
We have imposed upon ourselves an additional obligation to see justice and humanity exercised toward these people in accepting their services as soldiers. It would be a degree of baseness of which we hope our country is incapable to treat with contumely the defenders of the Union-the men who shall have confronted death on the battlefield, side by side with the bravest of our own race, in a struggle in which the stake is the existence in peace and in their integrity of these United States.
We are unjust to our enemies if we deny that this struggle has been a hard-fought be, contented bravely and with varying success. A people with an element of semi-barbarism in their society, giving birth to habits of violence and of lawless darings, are, in some respects, better prepared for war than one which stands on a higher place of Christian civilization. Add to this that our task is the more arduous because to quell the rebellion we have had to became the invaders. Under these circumstance, can we overlook that fact that several hundred thousand able-bodied men, detached from the labor ranks of the enemy and incorporated into the army of the North, may essentially influence the decision of the issue?
There is an additional reason why a considerable portion of the Union armies should be made up of persons of African descent. The transformation of the slave society of the South into free society, no longer properly a question, has become a necessity of our national existence. Reflecting men have already reached the conclusion, and the mass of our people are attaining to it day by day, that the sole condition of permanent peace on this continent if the eradication of negro slavery. But history of the world furnishes no example of an enslaved race which won its freedom without exertion of its own. That the indiscriminate massacres of a servile insurrection have been