To Arms! To Arms!

July 18, 1863, page 460

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The invasion of the North - street scenes in Philadelphia

A number of the colored men of this city met at the Bethel Church, Sixth Street, above Lombard, yesterday, with regard to their enlisting for the State defense. Mr. J. C. White presided, and Mr. John Wolf acted as Secretary. Among those present were Fred Douglass and most of the colored clergymen of the city. The following were adopted:

Resolved, That inasmuch as we solemnly believe that God has no attributes that can take part with the slave-holder in this rebellion, we hold it to be our highest religious duty to sustain our Government in the prosecution of this war so far as it is conducted for the purpose of equal rights, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Resolved, That we earnestly request all ministers of the Gospel, preaching to colored congregations, to teach their several charges that the days of our bondage in this land are at an end, and that God is saying to us, in the most emphatic manner, Be free, and take our place on the broad platform of equal rights.

Resolved, That we deeply feel for, and sincerely sympathize with, those of our race who are flying from the chains and slavery of a rebellions horde, and, forced before the march of a conscript army of marauders, have sought a refuge in our midst; and that we hereby pledge to them the protection of our homes and firesides, a part of our personal property, and a share of our daily bread, even to a portion of our last crumb.

It was proposed that the colored men present tender to the Government their services for three months or the emergency. There being no definite understanding as to the terms on which colored men would be received into the State service, the postponement of the consideration of the subject to another meeting was suggested.

Mr. Douglass urged immediate action. He said those present could enroll their names: if their services were not accepted, the responsibility would rest with the authorities. A number of persons then signed the roll. Another meeting is to be held this afternoon.

This illustration by Thomas Nast depicts various scenes in Philadelphia in reaction to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania. The two inset pictures at the bottom of the page show Union recruitment efforts aimed at the free black population of the city.


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