To John A. Andrew
February 18, 2014 Leave a comment
Governor of Massachusetts Washington, February 18. 1864.
Yours of the 12th. was received yesterday. If I were to judge from the letter, without any external knowledge, I should suppose that all the colored people South of Washington were struggling to get to Massachusetts; that Massachusetts was anxious to receive and retain the whole of them as permanent citizens; and that the United States Government here was interposing and preventing this. But I suppose these are neither really the facts, nor meant to be asserted as true by you. Coming down to what I suppose to be the real facts, you are engaged in trying to raise colored troops for the U.S. and wish to take recruits from Virginia, through Washington, to Massachusetts for that object; and the loyal Governor of Virginia, also trying to raise troops for us, objects to your taking his material away; while we, having to care for all, and being responsible alike to all, have to do as much for him, as we would have to do for you, if he was, by our authority, taking men from Massachusetts to fill up Virginia regiments. No more than this has been intended by me; nor, as I think, by the Secretary of War. There may have been some abuses of this, as a rule, which, if known, should be prevented in future.
If, however, it be really true that Massachusetts wishes to afford a permanent home within her borders, for all, or even a large number of colored persons who will come to her, I shall be only too glad to know it. It would give relief in a very difficult point; and I would not for a moment hinder from going, any person who is free by the terms of the proclamation or any of the acts of Congress.