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Collection African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

Politics and Government

This pamphlet presents editorials from a Washington, D.C., newspaper, the National Intelligencer, purporting to contain the intercepted correspondence between Judah P. Benjamin, secretary of state for the Confederacy, and L. Q. C. Lamar, the Confederate commissioner to Russia. In it Benjamin instructs Lamar to avoid treaty negotiations with European countries that might stipulate opposition to the slave trade. Benjamin argues that the Confederate Constitution denies the federal government the power to make treaties on such a subject and that it is a right reserved for the individual states. Furthermore, he writes that the Constitution bars the importation of slaves by the unanimous agreement of the states and that "a just and generous confidence in their good faith on this subject exhibited by friendly Powers will be far more efficacious than persistent efforts to induce this Government to assume the exercise of powers which it does not possess, and to bind the Confederacy by ties which would have no constitutional validity."

The African Slave Trade: The Secret Purpose of the Insurgents to Revive It. Author unknown (Philadelphia, 1863)

On March 3, 1865, Congress approved the act to incorporate the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. This organization absorbed the Union military banks set up for African-American troops during the Civil War and was sponsored by the Freedmen's Bureau. Although created for African Americans, it was organized by a group of white businessmen and philanthropists. Deposits were invested into government securities, which gave the false impression that the government backed all deposits. Mismanagement of funds and the depression of 1874 caused the bank's failure, despite efforts to save it by appointing African-American trustees such as Frederick Douglass.

An Act to Incorporate the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. (New York, 1865)

This pamphlet from the Republican Congressional Committee attempts to persuade the public to vote for the Republican candidates, Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax, in the 1868 presidential election on the basis of the Republican legislative record. It presents "what the Republican party has done in the vindication of its principles and in necessary defense of the Republic against Democratic treason." Some of the accomplishments the party claims include the recognition of Liberia and Haiti, the authorization of African-American military regiments, and the final abolition of slavery in the United States and throughout the U.S. territories.

Emancipation! Enfranchisement! Reconstruction! Legislative Record of the Republican Party During and Since the War. Republican Congressional Committee (Washington, D.C., 1868)