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[81] have passed the House had it remained in session one day longer. Up to this time, it must be remembered, colored men were not admitted to the Massachusetts militia, repeated applications from the leading colored men of Boston having failed to remove the restriction.

In the final debate, the main supporters of the resolution were Messrs. Henry L. Pierce of Dorchester, Charles W. Slack of Boston and William F. Durfee of New Bedford, the chief opponents being Messrs. A. H. Bullock of Worcester and George T. Davis of Greenfield. The opposition was based apparently on no distrust of the blacks, but upon the necessity of conciliating the prejudices of the Border States. Mr. (afterwards governor) Bullock ‘avowed his willingness to remove every vestige of disability from the colored citizens, and in proper time he hoped to see it done. This was not the time. Twenty-three sovereign States are a unit in this conflict. He who would now cast a firebrand among the ranks of the united North and West and the Border States will initiate a calamity the extent of which will be appalling and inconceivable.’1

The unquestioned priority in the actual enterprise belonged to Maj.-Gen. David Hunter of Washington, D. C., who began recruiting May 9, 1862, a black regiment called the First South Carolina Volunteers. But General Hunter, with many fine qualities, was a thoroughly impetuous man, whimsical, variable and easily influenced by his staff officers, few of whom had any real faith in the undertaking; he acted without authority from Washington, and his whole enterprise had been disallowed by the United States government when Brig.-Gen. Rufus Saxton, then military governor of the department, availing himself of the fact that one company of the regiment had not, like the rest, been disbanded, made that the basis of a reorganization of the regiment under the same name; and, under authority from the War Department dated Aug. 25, 1862,2 made it the pioneer of the whole subsequent series of slave-regiments. Now, General Saxton was a Massachusetts man; so was the colonel whom he put in charge of the regiment (T. W. Higginson); so was the first officer, detailed Aug. 4, 1862, to recruit for the 1st Kansas colored regiment (Capt. R. J. Hinton); so was Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, who recruited (Aug. 25, 1862) three regiments of free colored men in New Orleans. These five were the only colored regiments of the year 1862. The first

1 Schouler, I, 183.

2 For this letter of instructions see my ‘Army Life in a Black Regiment,’ p. 278.

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