Lot 35: ANS as president signed "A. Lincoln," one page, 4 x 2, February 9, 1863. In full: "The Sec. of War will regard the reappointment of Mr. Copeland as a personal affront." Clipped from the reverse of an American Telegraph Company telegram. In fine condition, with show-through from print to reverse. Accompanied by a custom-made leather clamshell presentation box.This remarkable note relates directly to the integration of colored troops into the Union Army during the Civil War. Despite the willingness of black men in the North to volunteer from the outset of the conflict, federal law prohibited their enlistment. It was not until the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863, that they could join the US military. Maurice Copeland, an officer on the staff of Nathaniel P. Banks, had written a letter during the summer of 1862 critical of the War Department's delay in employing colored troops. Secretary of War Stanton took the letter as a personal insult and had Copeland dismissed from service. Now that the War Department's position had changed and recruitment of black soldiers was in full force, the military was seeking recommendations for good officers to lead the colored troops. Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts advocated for the reinstatement of Copeland in this role, writing to Senator Charles Sumner, Secretary of War Stanton, and President Lincoln himself. In his letter to Sumner, dated January 28, 1863, the governor implores, 'Without a moment's delay, go to the President, and tell him for me that he ought to believe in the forgiveness of sins…You know Maurice Copeland was struck off the rolls last summer by a presidential order.' Despite Andrew's advocacy, the "personal affront" was never forgiven; it does not appear that Copeland was ever reappointed, and today he is no more than a footnote in history. Over the course of the next two years, more than 178,000 black men served in the Union Army and made up ten percent of all Union troops.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 466
Wednesday, 9th December 2015
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