War of the Rebellion: Serial 125 Page 0492 CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.

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manner as he might judge best for the public welfare. In these words we may find clear and simple authority for the enlistment of persons of African descent as U. S. soldiers. It is under this act, if under either of the acts of July 17, 1862, that colored volunteer soldiers may be said to have been employed. There is no need to resort, therefore, to the statute of July 17, 1862, chapter 201, for any authority with respect to their employment, or for any rule in regard to their compensation. Persons of African descent employed as soldiers are not embraced at all, as I have shown by the act of July 17, 1862, chapter 201, as objects or subjects of legislation; and we must therefore look to some other law for the measure of their compensation.

I find the law for the compensation of the persons of color referred to in your letter to me in the act of Congress in force at the dates of the enlistments of those persons, respecting the amount of pay and bounty to be given, and the amount and kind of clothing to be allowed to soldiers in the volunteer forces of the United States. For after a careful and critical examination, I believe, of every statute enacted since the foundation of the present Government relative to the enlistment of soldiers in the regular and volunteer forces of the United States, I have found no law which at any time prohibited the enlistment of free colored men into either branch of the national military service. The words of Congress descriptive of the recruits competent to enter the service were, in the act of April 30, 1790, "able- bodied men not under five feet six inches in height without shoes, not under the age of eighteen nor above the age of forty- five;" in the act of March 3, 1795, "able-bodied of at least five feet six inches, in height, and not under the age of eighteen nor above the age of forty-six years;" in the act of March 3, 1799, "able-bodied and of a size and age suitable for the public service according to the directions which the President of the United States shall and may establish;" in the act of March 16, 1802," effective able-bodied citizens of the United States of at least five feet six inches high and between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years;" in the acts of December 24, 1811, January 11, 1812, January 20, 1813, and January 27, 1814, "effective able-bodied men;" in the act of December 10, 1814, "free effective able-bodied men, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years;" and in the act of January 12, 1847, "able- bodied men." Some of the foregoing statutes are obsolete, others of them are still in force, and furnished, before the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, the rule by which the validity of the enlistments of persons alleged to have been minors was every day tried in the State and Federal courts. They organized the military establishments of the United States in time of peace and in time of war. They embrace the periods of all the wars, previously to the present, in which the United States has been engaged. By no one of them was or is the enlistment of free colored men into the military service of the United States, whether as volunteers or as regulars prohibited.

After the war of 1812 claims for bounty land preferred by persons of color who had enlisted and served in the Army under the statutes of 24th December, 1811, January 11, 1812, and December 10, 1814, were sustained as valid by the then Attorney-General, William Wirt (1 Opin., 603); and when I turn to more recent statutes, those which authorized the raising and regulate the organization of the whole body of the volunteer forces now in the field and provided for the maintenance and increase of the regular forces in the service, I dis-