February 10, 1865: Confederate congress takes up arming slaves

The 13th Amendment

New York TImes:

DOVER, Del., Thursday, Feb. 9.
The Legislature yesterday rejected the proposed amendment to the Constitution, by a three-fourths vote in the Senate and a two-thirds vote in the House.

Two bills, somewhat different, were introduced in the Confederate Senate and House to provide for raising black troops. The Richmond Daily Dispatch gives us some of the debate in the House. Still controversial, while the Union had over 150,000 black troops in the field. A few black troops would don the Confederate uniform eventually, but never see action.


[SENATE BILL, No. 190,]
        SENATE, February 10, 1865.–Read first and second times, referred to Committee on Military Affairs, and ordered to be printed.
[By Mr. OLDHAM.]
A BILL
To provide for Raising Two Hundred Thousand Negro Troops.
1         SECTION 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America
2 do enact, That the President of the Confederate States be
3 and he is hereby authorized to receive into the military service,
4 any number of negro troops not to exceed two hundred thousand.
1         SEC. 2. That the President be and he is authorized, to assign
2 officers already appointed, or make appointments of officers, to
3 raise and command said troops; and the same, when raised,
4 shall be organized as provided under existing laws.
1         SEC. 3. That no negro slave shall be received into the service
2 without the written consent of his owner and under such
3 regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of War to
4 carry into effect this act.
1         SEC. 4. That it is hereby declared, that Congress does not
2 hereby assume to change the social and political status of the
3 slave population of the States, but leaves the same under the
4 jurisdiction and control of the States to which it belongs.

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[House of Representatives, No. 367.]

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, February 10, 1865. – Read first and second times, referred to a select committee of one from each State, and ordered to be printed.
By Mr. Barksdale.
 
A BILL
To be entitled An Act to increase the military force of the Confederate States.
The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact,
That, in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their independence, and preserve their institutions, the President be and he is hereby authorized to ask for and accept from the owners of slaves, the services of such number of able-bodied negro men as he may deem expedient, for and during the war, to perform military service in whatever capacity he may direct.
SEC 2. That the President be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.
SEC 3. That while employed in the service the said troops shall receive the same rations, clothing, and compensation as are allowed in the Act approved February 17th, 1864, and the Acts amendatory thereto, “to increase the efficiency of the army by the employment of free negroes and slaves in certain capacities,” and the compensation so allowed shall be made to the owner or to the slave as the owner thereof may elect.
Sec. 4. That nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear toward their owners as property, except by consent of the States in which they may reside, and in pursuance of the laws thereof.

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House of Representatives.
The House meet at 11 A. M. Prayer by the Rev. Dr. Duncan.
The House took up the resolution offered by Mr. Garland, of Arkansas, fixing Monday, February 20th, for the adjournment of Congress.
The resolution was amended so as to read Tuesday, the 28th, instead of Monday, the 20th, and adopted — yeas, 48; nays, 26.
The House unanimously adopted the Senate joint resolution of thanks to Mr. John Lancaster, of England, for the rescue of a portion of the officers and crew of the Alabama.
Mr. Barksdale, of Mississippi, offered a bill to increase the military force of the Confederate States.
The first section of the bill provides that in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion and to secure the independence of the Confederate States, the President be authorized to ask for, and accept from the owners of slaves, the services of such able-bodied negro man as he may deem expedient to perform military services in whatever capacity the general-in-chief may direct.
The second section provides that, the President be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.
The third section provides that while employed in the service, the said slaves shall receive the same rations, clothing and compensation as are allowed in the act approved February 17, 1864, and the acts amendatory thereto “to increase the efficiency of the army by the employment of free negroes and slaves in certain capacities”; and the compensation so allowed shall be made to the owner or to the slave, as the owner thereof may elect.
The fourth section of the bill provides that nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear towards their owners as property, except by consent of the States in which they may reside, and in pursuance of the laws thereof.
Mr. Miles, of South Carolina, moved that the bill be rejected. He wanted to test the sense of the House upon this subject of arming negroes. He wanted to have a vote upon it.
Mr. Marshall, of Kentucky.–Yes, let us have a vote on it. Let the country know where we stand.
Mr. Hartridge, of Georgia, asked that the vote on the rejection of the bill be taken by ayes and noes. Ordered.
The vote being taken on the motion to reject, resulted — ayes, 21; noes, 53. So the bill was not rejected.
The House resumed the consideration of the special order, viz: the bill “to levy additional taxes for the year 1865 for the support of the Government,” and without arriving at any conclusion thereon, adjourned.

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