By Anthony F. Gero
Concise heritage of the valiant carrier of recent York's African American infantrymen.
Read or Download Black Soldiers of New York State: A Proud Legacy (Excelsior Editions) PDF
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Additional info for Black Soldiers of New York State: A Proud Legacy (Excelsior Editions)
Helen Curtis of New York City. 7 When the national draft was instituted, although 10 percent of the total population was black, 13 percent of the draftees were men of color. 8 What these statistics show is that, although drafted in greater proportion to the general population, black soldiers would see limited combat based upon racial attitudes in the Army. Commissioned black officers experienced discrimination also because, traditionally, officers are viewed as “officers and gentlemen” so elevating African-Americans to such rank ran against segregationist practices.
Period records indicate that by the middle of the nineteenth century, the State of New York saw distinct divisions within its population’s attitudes on the question of slavery and of the status of African-Americans living in New York. Abolitionists, for the most part, were strong in the western, central, and northern New York State, but in the city of New York, pro-slavery sentiments and anti-black feelings ran high. New York City’s mayor, Fernando Wood, openly attacked the black man as inferior while city representatives even opposed the Thirteen Amendment to the Constitution when proposed.
Based on documentation uncovered to date, there is a huge gap of evidence concerning their possible service. 1 After the War of 1812, the militia organization of New York’s enrolled or common militia became one of political patronage and, by the late 1830s, had degenerated into buffoonery. As a result of widespread antimilitia protests in the 1840s, the entire system was forced to change so that the traditional enrolled militia system, encompassing all able-bodied men, became a volunteer system of citizen-soldiers.