Louder than ten thousand thunders is the call which this day (July 4) utters in the ears of all men in whose veins flows the blood of Africa, and whose color has been the badge of slavery.
The accumulated woes of many generations give direction and emphasis to the duty of to-day.
The opportunity of years, now crowded into an hour, now visits you, and beckons, entreats, commands, you to come, come now, come instantly, come with a shout, and receive the baptism which is to admit you into the glorious company of the peoples, of every clime and of every hue, who, by their own blood, have vindicated their right to all the blessings and all the powers of liberty, and to whose own right arms the Lord of hosts has given the victory.
The controversy on the matter of payment continued for more than a year; the Government
refusing to pay the men more than seven dollars a month, or the chaplains the pay due to their rank, which created great dissatisfaction among the men. The Legislature of Massachusetts appropriated money to make up the deficiency; and the Governor
appointed Major James Sturgis
, of Boston
, assistant Adjutant-General
, to proceed to South Carolina
to make the payment; but the men refused to receive it. They demanded from the General Government
equal pay with other United States volunteers.
They were greatly in need of money, and their families were suffering at home; yet they resolutely determined to receive no pay unless they received full pay. The matter in June, 1864, was referred by the President
to Mr. Bates
, the Attorney-General
of the United States
, who gave a learned and elaborate opinion, in which he sustained every point which the Governor
The following is the concluding paragraph of Mr. Bates
In view, therefore, of the foregoing considerations, I give it to you, unhesitatingly, as my opinion, that the same pay, bounty, and clothing are allowed by law to the persons of color referred to in your communication, and who were enlisted and mustered into the military service of the United States between the months of December, 1862, and the 16th of June, 1864, as are, by the laws existing at the times of the enlistments of said persons, authorized and provided for, and allowed to other soldiers in the volunteer forces of the United States of like arms of the service.