Prejudices of the Northern States
Radical Republican Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts petitioned Lincoln to allow his State agents to seize captured South Carolina slaves and count them as Massachusetts soldiers under his State quota – thus avoiding the conscription of white Massachusetts men and keeping captured blacks out of his State. For the same general purpose Andrew obtained 400 well-paid California men to serve as the Second Massachusetts Cavalry regiment.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa 1865
Prejudices of the Northern States
“In the house of them who felt so keenly their mission to call others to repentance, how fared it with the Negro? In the general laws of Massachusetts (compiled in accordance with a resolution of February 22, 1822) it is provided: “That no person being an African or Negro, other than the subjects of the emperor of Morocco” – (and certified citizens of other States) “shall tarry within the Commonwealth for a longer time than two months.”
In case of such prolonged stay, if after warning and failure to depart, “it shall be made to appear that the said person has thus continued in [Massachusetts] . . . he or she shall be whipped, not exceeding ten stripes, and ordered to depart, and if he shall not so depart, the same process shall be had and inflicted, and so toties quoties.” In March, 1788, this was one of the “perpetual laws of the Commonwealth.”
When war raged for freedom, how was it then? In September 1862, General [John] Dix proposed to remove a “number of [Negro] contrabands” from Fortress Monroe to Massachusetts. To this Governor Andrew replied: “I do not concur in any way, or to any degree in the plan proposed” [and that you will be deprived] “of the strength of hundreds of stout arms, which would be nerved with the desperation of men fighting for liberty.”
But the Negro, despite all the invocations to do so, had never offered to fight for liberty; did not then offer. At that time no Negro had ever sat upon a jury; none trained in the militia; none trained in the militia of Massachusetts. Why should the Negro be ambitious to die for Massachusetts?
The war governor proceeds: “Contemplating, however, the possibility of such removal, permit me to say that the Northern States are of all places the worst possible to select for an asylum . . . I would take the liberty of suggesting some Union foothold in the South.”
In this same month, the adjutant-general [Dix] inquired of the army of the West: “What is to be done with this unfortunate race . . . You cannot send them North. You all know the prejudices of the Northern States for receiving large numbers of the colored race. Some States have passed laws prohibiting them to come within their borders . . . look along this river (the Mississippi) and see the number of deserted plantations on its borders. These are the best places for these freed men.”
Ever, as with the constancy of natural causes, exercised in some other man’s house, on the banks of some far-off, ancient river. On these terms who would not be an altruist?
“In the State where I live,” said John Sherman, on April 2, 1862, “we do not like Negroes. We do not disguise our dislike. As my friend from Indiana (Mr. Wright) said yesterday, “The whole people of the Northwestern States, are, for reasons, whether correct or not, opposed to having many Negroes among them, and that principle or prejudice has been engraved in the legislation of nearly all the Northwestern States.”
(Leigh Robinson’s Address, 18 December, 1909, Southern Historical Society Papers, Volume 36, 1908, pp. 319-321)