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    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     LIFE OF MAJOR M.R.DELANY

Rollin, Frank [Frances] A.
Life and Public Services of Martin R. Delany



At the close of every revolution in a country, there is observed an effort for the gradual and general expulsion of all that is effete, or tends to retard progress; and as the nation comes forth from its purification with its existence renewed and invigorated, a better and higher civilization is promised.

Before entering upon such an effort, it is usual to compute the aid rendered in the past struggle for national existence, and the present status of the auxiliaries in connection with it. In this manner, as the sullen roar of battle ceases, as the war cloud fades out from our sky, we are enabled to look more soberly upon the stupendous revolution, its causes and teachings, and to consider the men and new measures developed through its agency, the material with which the country is to be reconstructed.

In reviewing the history of the late civil war, it will be found, as in former revolutions, that those who were able to master its magnitude were men who,

prior to the occasion, were almost wholly unknown, or claimed but a local reputation. Measures which before were deemed impracticable and inexpedient, in the progress of the war were considered best adapted to meet the exigencies of the time. A race before persecuted, slandered, and brutalized, ostracized, socially and politically, have scattered the false theories of their enemies, and proved in every way their claim and identity to American citizenship in its every particular. While the war between sections has erased slavery from the statutes of the country, it has in nowise obliterated the inconsistent prejudice against color. Among the white Americans, since the rebellion, from the highest officer to the lowest subaltern, there is a recognized precedence for them, in view of their patriotism and valor in the hour of peril and treachery. They recognized their duty when Southerners had ignored it: for this we honor them; and none would gainsay an atom of the praise bestowed: the country had always honored and protected them at home and abroad, and in enhancing her prestige, they have added to their own as American citizens. But in the same dark hour of strife and treachery, there went forth from the despised and dusky sons of the republic a host, who, though faring differently, contributed no meagre offering to the cause of the Union. In the foremost rank of battle they stood, stimulated alone by
their sublime faith in the future of their country, instead of being deterred by the disheartening experiences of the past. From their first hour in the rebellion to the last, theirs was a fierce, unequal contest; they were found enlisting, fighting, and even dying under circumstances from which the bravest Saxon would have been justified in shrinking. For them there was "death in the front and destruction in the rear"-- torture and death as prisoners in the rebel lines, and the perils of the mob in many of the loyal cities awaiting them when seen in the United States uniform. Despite all opposition, they have traced their history in characters as indestructible as they are brilliant, to the confusion of their enemies. On every field, negro heroism and valor have been proved by them in a manner which has established for their race a grandeur of character in American annals, that, when read by the unprejudiced eyes of futurity, will gleam with increased splendor amid their unfavorable surroundings; while is song and story their deeds of prowess will live forever, reflecting the glories of Port Hudson, the criminal field of Olustee, and the holy memories which cluster about Fort Wagner.

Of an army of more than a quarter of a million men, less than a decade received promotion for their services. Lieutenant Stephen A. Swails, of Elmira, New York, a member of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts

Volunteers, had the honor of being first, for having signally distinguished himself both at Wagner and Olustee. Later followed the promotion of Lieutenants Dufree, Shorter, James T.Trotter, and Charles Mitchell, from the Fifty-fifth Massachusetts Volunteers; Lieutenants Peter Voglesang (Quartermaster), and Frank Welch, from the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers. Dr. Alexander Augusta, of Canada, had been previously appointed surgeon, with the rank of major. Besides these, several complimentary promotions were given prior to the muster out of these two regiments. None of the officers above named have been retained in the service; one alone remains, who, during the rebellion, had attained the highest commission bestowed on any of the race by the government-- that of Major of Infantry. Him whom the government had chosen for this position we have made the subject of this work. His great grasp of mind and fine executive ability eminently befitted him for the sphere, and the success which attends his measures renders him a distinct and conspicuous character at his post. His career throughout life has been very remarkable. Prior to his present appointment his name was familiar with every advance movement relative to the colored people: once it fell upon the ear of the terror-stricken Virginians, in connection with John Brown, of Ossowatomie; and scarcely had it been forgotten when it
was borne back to us from the Statistical Congress at London, encircled with the genius of Lord Brougham. To no more advantageous surroundings than were enjoyed by the masses he owes his successes; hence his achievements may be safely argued as indicative of the capability and progress of the race whose proud representative he is. The isolated and degraded position assigned the colored people precluding the possibility of gaining distinction, whenever one of their number lifts himself by the strength of his own character beyond the prescribed limits, ethnologists apologize for this violation of their established rules, charging it to some few drops of Saxon blood commingling with the African. But in the case of the individual of whom we write, he stands proudly before the country the blackest of the black, presenting in himself a giant's powers warped in chains, and evidencing in his splendid career the fallacy of the old partisan theory of Negro inferiority and degradation.

In this history will be noticed certain strong characteristics peculiarly his own, which are traceable more to the circumstances of his birth than his race. Aiming to render a faithful biography of this remarkable man, we narrate minutely his singularly active and eventful life, which, in view of the narrow limits apportioned to him, will bear favorable comparison with the great Americans of our time.

Charleston , S.C., October 19th, 1868.


    CONTENTS.   Table of Contents     LIFE OF MAJOR M.R.DELANY