War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0273 UNION AUTHORITIES.

Search Civil War Official Records

anointed as the President may direct, provided that none but regularly ordained ministers of some Christian denomination shall be eligible to selection or appointment. The eight section of the act of July 17, 1862, chapter 200, declares that the two sections last cited shall be construed to read as follows:

That no person shae United States Army who is not a regularly ordained minister of some religious denomination, and who does not present testimonials of his present good standing as such minister, with a recommendation for his appointment as an army chaplain from some authorized ecclesiastic body, or not less than five accredited ministers belonging to said religious denomination.

The closest inspection of these provisions will discover nothing that precludes the appointment of a Christian minister to the office of chaplain because he is a person of African descent. I therefore conclude that Mr. Harrison was the lawfully appointed and qualified chaplain of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment.

The ninth section of the act of July 17, 1862, chapter 200, provides that thereafter the compensation of all chaplains in the regular or volunteer service or army hospitals shall be $100 per month and two rations a day when on duty. Was Mr. harrison entitled to this rate of compensation, or was he limited to the pay of $10 a month and one ration, fixed by the proviso to toe fifteenth section of the act of July 17, 1862, chapter 201?

It will be observed that this proviso declares that $10 a month and ore ration shall be received by persons of African descent employed under the law of which it is a part, viz: the act of 17th July, 1862, chapter 201. Now, we have seen that it is not necessary to resort to that law to find authority for the appointment of Mr. Harrison as chaplain, for, apart from the authority which might be presumed to exist prior to the enactment of any of these statutes, the eleventh section of the act of July 17, 1862, chapter 195, sufficiently warranted it. To bring him then the sweep of this proviso, and thus withdraw him from the reach of the act which specifically fixes the pay of the class of officers to which be clear law he belongs, would violate the plainest principles of construction. The act, of which the proviso is a part, was not intended, in my opinion, either to authorize the employment or fix the pay of any persons of African descent, except those who might be needed to perform the humble offices of labor and service for which they might be found competent. The twelfth section authorizes them to be received into service for the purpose of constructing entrenchments, or performing camp service, or any other labor, or any militia or naval service for which they might be found competent. The thirteenth section declares that when any man or body of African descent, who by the laws of any State shall owe service or labor to any person aiding the rebellion, shall render such service as this act provides for, he, his mother, wife, and chilith certain exceptions. And the fifteenth section fixes their pay, as before stated. Whilst it is true that the words of the twelfth section are broad enough to embrace all persons of African descent who may be received into the military or naval service of the United States, it is yet quite evident from the terms of the whole section, as well as from the promise of freedom held out to such persons who were slaves, in the thirteen section, that in limiting their pay to $10 a month and one ration, Congress had in view the class who were fitted only for the humbler kinds of service referred to, and not persons who, under the authority of other laws, might be appointed

18 R R-SERIES III, VOL IV