Republicans and race

Mark Lause MLause at
Wed Aug 27 15:20:55 MDT 2003

Vulnerability to sound politics, however bombastically and eccentrically
expressed, is what we must be about...

Here's another one I just pulled off the of special interest
because it's from a trade unionist. George W. Beidelman was from a
Jacksonian and quite anti-abolitionist little town in Pennsylvania.
Getting a taste of urban life at Philadelphia, he joined the
Typographical Union.  When the war came, he joined the 71st Pennsylvania
and participated in the major campaigns of the Army of the Potomac
before being severely wounded at Gettysburg.  While recovering, he wrote
his father a letter on September 13, 1863. (_The Civil War Letters of
George Washington Beidelman_, ed. Catherine H. Vanderslice (New York:
Vantage Press, 1978), p. 184-85.)

"Camp William the rendezvous and Camp of instruction for the
three U.S. Colored regiments to be organized in Penna.  The first
regiment was completed, and embarked for South Carolina about a month
ago, and now the second is about full.  There are as yet but few
officers for the present regiment, and it may not leave for some time on
that account.  It will take several weeks--perhaps months--for the next
regiment to be filled up and organized; so that, if I behave myself I
will probably be here all the fall--perhaps for Christmas.

"You would be astonished to see in what short time these rough and
uncoth, and hitherto despised and ignorant men, attain proficiency as
good soliders--both in drill and discipline.  ... I think the Government
has 'hit the nail on the head' in this instance; for it is evidently
fast becoming its strongest arm for the suppression of the rebellion.
Thank God, the inhuman and hell-begotten prejudices, which would deprive
these people of the dearest privileges of men and citizens, are fast
disappearing; and a new order of things will no doubt attend the results
of this great rebellion and the cleaning out of the Augean stables of
our political system.  This was has been, and is, a terrible thing to an
unmilitary people, as its incipience found us; but I firmly believe it
is the 'judgment begun at the house of the Lord'--the refiner's fire
that will purify our nation, and give it its proper prominence in the
great drama of the world's history yet to be enacted..."

Brother Beidelman died of his wounds in early 1864.

It was not just African-Americans, who were betrayed by the abandonment
of Reconstruction.

Mark L.

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