Printed “Official Copy” of Andrews' letter to President Lincoln, signed by his Military Secretary, Colonel A.G.Browne, Jr. Boston, May 12, 1864. 3pp.
Deploring the inequitable treatment of heroic Black soldiers in the Union Army, who were not only been paid less than white troops, but had often not been paid at all. (A month later, Congress granted equal pay for the 180,000 Black troops in the Union Army.)
First quoting a statement by Lincoln’s Attorney General in in support of Rev. Samuel Harrison, former chaplain of the 54th Mass. Regiment – dramatized in the movie “Glory” - who had protested that he and fellow Black Army chaplains were being paid less than white military clergy of the same rank, Andrews “demands” that the President exercise his “constitutional obligation” to insure “the just, full and immediate payment” to Black officers and men of the overdue sums owed them as “volunteer soldiers of the United States”. “Already these soldiers - than whom none have been more distinguished for toilsome work in the trenches, fatigue duty in camp and conspicuous valor and endurance in battle – have waited during twelve months…for their just and lawful pay…Many of those who marched in these regiments…have been worn out in service or have fallen in battle…yielding up their lives for the defence of their native country, in which they had felt their share of oppression, but from which they never had received justice. Many also yet linger, bearing honorable wounds, but dependent upon public charity while unpaid by the government of the nation, the humble wages of a soldier, and sick at heart as they contemplate their own humiliation. Of others, yet alive and remaining in the service, still fighting and wholly unpaid, the families have been driven to beggary and the almshouse. These regiments… stung by grief and almost crazed by pangs with which every brave and true man on earth must sympathize, are trembling on the verge of military demoralization.” Another Black regiment, raised among freed slaves in South Carolina, had “suffered the penalty of death for the military offence of mutiny, by refusing further obedience to his officers, and declaring that, by its own breach of faith, the government of the United States had released him from his contract of enlistment as a solider. The government which found no law to pay him, except as a nondescript or a contraband, nevertheless found law enough to shoot him as a soldier. In behalf of the sufferings of the poor and needy, of the rights of brave men in arms for their country, of the statutes of Congress and of the honor of the nation, I pray your excellency to interpose the rightful power of the Chief Executive Magistrate…to right these wrongs.”