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At the close of a review of the white and colored troops in New Orleans, on Sunday, December 18, 1814, General Jackson's address to the troops was read by Edward Livingston, one of his aids, and the following is the portion addressed:—

To the men of color.
Soldiers! From the shores of Mobile I collected you to arms,—I invited you to share in the perils, and to divide the glory of your white countrymen. I expected much from you; for I was not uninformed of those qualities which must render you so formidable to an invading foe. I knew that you could endure hunger and thirst, and all the hardships of war. I knew that you loved the land of your nativity, and that, like ourselves, you had to defend all that is most dear to man. But you surpass my hopes. I have found in you, united to these qualities, that noble enthusiasm which impels to great deeds.

Soldiers! The President of the United States shall be informed of your conduct on the present occasion; and the voice of the representatives of the American nation shall applaud your valor, as your general now praises your ardor. The enemy is near. His sails cover the lakes. But the brave are united; and if he finds us contending among ourselves, it will be for the prize of valor, and fame, its noble reward. Niles's Register, vol. VII., pp. 345, 346.1

But the course of events has pretty effectually changed public opinion on the subject. From Major-General Hunter's department,2 and [424] from other quarters, the official reports of the services of negro regiments in the field are highly satisfactory. The superiority of African troops has been completely demonstrated in several important respects.

1. They have nothing to fear from those Southern diseases which prove so fatal to Northern men.

2. They can endure greater hardships and exposures, in camp, on the march, and on the field of action.

3. They are more readily reduced to camp-discipline, and, from lifelong habits of unquestioning obedience, are by no means likely to be guilty of insubordination; while desertion—especially in slave-districts —will be almost unknown.

Finally, they fight not only for freedom and all the blessings it brings, but to escape the ignominious and dreadful death they must endure if they once more fall into the hands of their revengeful task-masters.

But other considerations of the gravest magnitude, must enter into the general estimate.

Whenever or however this war may end, nobody supposes it will leave us without a military and naval force strong enough to protect ourselves against insurrection at home, and aggression or insult from abroad.

Our standing army might ultimately be made up chiefly of emancipated negroes; and so may our navy; and they would in time make such a military and maritime force as never has been seen.

Since the days of slavery are numbered in the rebel States, where the institution falls with the fall of the rebellion, and in the border States, where the people, under an enlightened policy, are abolishing it themselves, it may require a vast armed force to enable the Government to carry out such mighty changes as will necessarily attend the reconstruction of Southern society.

For this stupendous work the negroes will be the reliable instruments of the Government in vindicating the strength, the honor, and the glory of the republic. Another heavy force will be required in rebuilding the overthrown structures, and repairing the waste places of war's desolations. [425]

It is not improbable, too, that another vast army may be needed to build the Pacific Railroad, ship-canals, and other great works of protection and defence.3

And he would be both a short-sighted and sanguine optimist who should leave out of the horoscope of the next few years, the contingencies, if not the probabilities, of a collision with Great Britain. That struggle is as inevitable as this rebellion was. All the issues have been gathering, and the result must come, unless through a premature flash of the millennium, all our difficulties should be settled by Arbitration, which Heaven grant, although it seems like praying for the ‘happy thousand years.’ No mortal power can protract it forever. We must be prepared for it, so that it can at no time take us by surprise. This is now the feeling among all parties and sections throughout the country. This feeling will not change. Nations never forgive wrongs or insults. Ours must and will be avenged. The African race emancipated will hereafter constitute the great body-guard of the Union.

1 For many of the foregoing data I am indebted to Mr. George Livermore's recent and valuable work, entitled ‘An Historical Research respecting the Opinions of the Founders of the Republic on Negroes as Slaves, as Citizens, and as Soldiers.’

2 In a letter from General Hunter, written from South Carolina, Feb. II, 1863, to a friend, he says:—

Finding that the able-bodied negroes did not enter the military service as rapidly as could be wished, I have resolved, and so ordered, that all who are not regularly employed in the Quartermaster's Department, or as officers' servants, shall be drafted. In this course I am sustained by the views of all the more intelligent among them.

In drafting them I was actuated by several motives,—the controlling one being that I regarded their service as a military necessity if this war is to be ended in a triumph of the Union arms. Subordinate to this consideration, I regard the strict discipline of military life as the best school in which this people can be gradually lifted toward our higher civilization; and their enrolment in the negro brigade will have the further good effect of rendering mere servile insurrection, unrestrained by the laws and usages of war, less likely. If any further argument were needed to justify my course, it would be found in my deep conviction that freedom (like all other blessings) can never be justly appreciated except by men who have been taught the sacrifices which are its price. In this course, let me add, I expect to be sustained by all the intelligent and practically-minded friends of the enfranchised bondman.

3 In speaking on the subject of defence for the Northern frontier, Senator Arnold, of Rhode Island, used the following striking language:—

He said,

It is the duty of the statesman not only to crush the rebellion, but to cement the Union. This canal will revive the idea of national unity,—the grand idea which has inspired the vast and sublime efforts of the people to restore the national unity. This canal will be an east-and-west Mississippi. He spoke of the unqualified devotion of the West to the Union. There were rebels in the West, and elsewhere, who are seeking to alienate the West from the East. To this traitorous band was addressed the proclamation of the rebel General Bragg. How the West responds, the rebels learned from the mouths of her cannon at Murfreesborough. The soldiers of the East and the West, fighting together on many a glorious and sanguinary field, will with their blood cement a union and a nationality so strong and deep that no sectional appeal can ever shake the loyalty of the glorious band of loyal States. The West will regard as traitors alike those who suggest a peace with any portion of the Mississippi in rebel hands, and those who suggest a Union with patriotic, brave New England left out.

The Northern frontier must he defended; and this canal is the cheapest and best means of defending it. While the Atlantic shore is protected from any foreign enemy by three thousand miles of ocean, by forts and fortifications from Maine to Florida, by a navy which has cost hundreds of millions, the Northern frontier, not less important, is entirely defenceless, and within easy cannon-range for hundreds of miles of a foreign territory.

The North-west cheerfully pays her proportion for the defence of the Atlantic, and will pay further large appropriations now required. But we ask, in justice, that the Northern frontier should be secured.

He then read a memorial of ex-President Fillmore and others, showing the exposed condition of Lake Erie, and showed that the lakes by the Canadian canals were accessible to British gunboats, and the lake cities and commerce were exposed to destruction. This canal will enable us to place our gunboats on the lakes. He read a letter from Admiral Porter, showing that we had now afloat more than fifty gunboats which could pass from the ocean to the lakes by this canal.

He then presented the importance—fiscal, commercial, and agricultural—of the interests thus seeking protection.

Fifty-eight million bushels of breadstuffs were shipped from Chicago alone during the past year. The commerce of the lakes was at least four hundred millions per annum. Corn, since cotton had committed felo de se, was now king, and kept the peace between Europe and America. This enlarged canal is the cheapest mode of defending the lakes. The whole cost of the canal was only thirteen million dollars. This will turn the Mississippi into the lakes, and unite forever the East and the West. Every dollar thus expended in defence cheapens transportation.

The capacity of the proposed Illinois Canal will be twelve times that of the Erie Canal. The largest steamers which navigate the Mississippi will steam directly to Lake Michigan. These grand results cost only thirteen millions. It will rapidly pay for itself, and is then to leave a grand national free highway. It will add to the taxable property of the Union as much, or more, than the Erie Canal has done. It will give stability to our Government, and add to the national wealth. It will increase both our ability to borrow money and to pay it.

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