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[476] higher one. To our offer of freedom, they would offer freedom and a home in the South, after our subjugation, as well as exemption from military service meanwhile.

How did gentlemen propose to fight negro troops? He hoped they did not propose to commingle them with our brave white soldiers. How would they fight them? Not by regiments; not by brigades; not by army corps; but by companies! Place the negroes in the front — put a company here and a company there — and all mutual rivalry is lost by the interposition of this timid material; our line wavers, and is swept away.

Mr. Chambers said he was ashamed to debate the question. All nature cries out against it. The negro race was ordained to slavery by the Almighty. Emancipation would be the destruction of our social and political system. God forbid that this Trojan horse should be introduced among us.

The negro, said Mr. Chambers, will not fight. All history shows this.

Mr. Simpson, of South Carolina (sotto voce)--The Yankees make them fight.

Mr. Lester, of Georgia--Not much.

Mr. Marshall, of Kentucky--Fill them with whiskey, and they will fight.

It is not denied that the negro will fight, but will he fight well enough to resist the Yankee armies? The negro can not be made a good soldier. The law of his race is against it. Of great simplicity of disposition, tractable, prone to obedience, and highly imitative, he may be easily drilled; but, timid, averse to effort, without ambition, he has no soldierly quality. Being adapted by nature to slavery, as he makes the best of slaves, he must needs make the worst of soldiers. He could recollect no instance in the war of ‘76 where negro troops were used in regular organization and regular battle, except the battalion of slaves which Lord Dunmore brought into the fight near Norfolk, against the Virginia militia, and, in that affair, as we are told by the historian Botta, they “acted shabbily, and saved themselves by flight.” When, in 1793, the English landed on the Island of St. Domingo, they found it defended by over twenty thousand troops, chiefly mulattoes and negroes, but, with less than one thousand men, captured several important strongholds, and with less than two thousand, finally seized upon Port-au-Prince, the capital of the island. The French authorities, in their extremity, offered freedom to their slaves — over four hundred thousand in number — on condition of military service for the occasion, in defence of their homes, as we would say, yet only six thousand availed themselves of the offer, although these slaves were still bloody from the insurrection of 1790. They preferred slavery to military service.

So, in the beginning of this war, the negro escaped at every opportunity to our enemies, to avoid work, but since the system of negro conscription has been adopted by the United States government, he now remains with us, true to the instinct of his race. It is not slavery he desires to avoid, it is work in any form, but especially work in the form of dangerous service.

This government possesses all the war-power originally possessed by all the people of the several States. With wise design they have delegated the whole, with little or no reservation. It is not too much to say that not the Czar of Russia, not even Peter the Great, whose despotism was restrained by no traditions and alarmed by no fears, could have brought into the field so promptly and thoroughly the entire war power of that despotism as this government has elicited the war power of the several States in defence of the rights of the States. For this purpose the first gun at Fort Sumter summoned them to arms; they will again fly to arms in the same sacred cause, whenever and by whomever menaced. When the last man shall have sunk in his tracks, when the last steed shall have fallen beneath his rider, and the last morsel of food shall have vanished from the land, then, and not till then, will the war-power of this government be exhausted.

Mr. Goode, of Virginia, said he was opposed to the employment of negroes as soldiers under any circumstances. He was opposed to it because it was a confession of weakness to the enemy. He was opposed to it, because he thought it would end in abolition. He was opposed to it, because it was degrading to our men. He believed that the right place for Cuffee was in the corn-field.

At quarter past two o'clock, on motion of Mr. Russell, of Virginia, the House went into secret session, to consider a bill reported from the Judiciary Committee.


Opinions of the press and people.

Richmond, November 4, 1854.
gentlemen: Allow me a brief space to bring again to public notice the subject of negro conscription, and the probable action of the next Congress on this subject.

That the owners of fifteen negroes, and upward, would prefer that Congress should conscript ten or even a greater per centum of their negroes for the army, rather than the present law exempting them should be revoked, there can be not the least question; that the negroes then remaining at home on large plantations would produce, with the attention of their masters, more than the whole number would if the masters were conscripted, and they left intact, cannot be denied. Then what are the objections to bringing this power, which has so long been overlooked, to bear upon our enemy, who are using men of every faith, clime and color to subdue us? Some pretend that the army has great averson to seeing the negro conscripted; that they will not allow themselves thus to be on an equality with the negro ; others that there is a great principle of morality involved in thus


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