Study Areas



Free Persons of Color

Underground Railroad

The Violent Decade

US Colored Troops

Civil War

Year of Jubilee (1863)

20th Century

Recruitment Poster to enlist African American men for the Civil War.

July 1863 Recruitment Poster

The following recruiting poster, designed to draw African American men into the newly formed United States Colored Troops regiments, was probably released about mid-July 1863. It references the early July engagements at Port Hudson and Milliken's Bend, but does not mention the assault on Fort Wagner, which occurred on July 18th of that year.

This poster was published in Philadelphia, and is signed by most of the region's most influential African American male community leaders. It is a brilliant and inspirational appeal to patriotism, family, duty, and honor, and it was very effective.

Men of Color To Arms! To Arms! Now or Never!

This is our golden moment! The Government of the United States calls for every Able-Bodied Colored Man to enter the Army for the THREE YEARS’ SERVICE, and join in fighting the Battles of Liberty and the Union. A new era is open to us. For generations we have suffered under the horrors of slavery, outrage and wrong; our manhood has been denied, our citizenship blotted out, our souls seared and burned, our spirits cowed and crushed, and the hopes of the future of our race involved in doubt and darkness. But now the whole aspect of our relations to the white race is changed. Now, therefore, is our most precious moment. Let us rush to arms!

Fail Now and Our Race is Doomed on this the soil of our birth. We must now awake, arise, or be forever fallen. If we value liberty, if we wish to be free in this land, if we love our country, if we love our families, our children, our home, we must strike NOW while the Country calls: we must rise up in the dignity of our manhood, and show by our own right arms that we are worthy to be freemen. Our enemies have made the country believe that we are craven cowards, without soul, without manhood, without the spirit of soldiers. Shall we die with this stigma resting upon our graves? Shall we leave this Inheritance of shame to our Children? No! a thousand times NO! We WILL Rise!

The alternative is upon us. Let us rather die freemen than live to be slaves. What is life without liberty? We say that we have manhood--now is the time to prove it. A nation or a people that cannot fight may be pitied, but cannot be respected. If we would be regarded Men, if we would forever SILENCE THE TONGUE OF CALUMNY, of prejudice and hate; let us rise NOW and fly to arms! We have seen what Valor and Heroism our brothers displayed at PORT HUDSON and MILLIKEN'S BEND; though they are just from the galling, poisoning grasp of slavery, they have startled the world by the most exalted heroism. If they have proved themselves heroes, can not we prove ourseleves men!

ARE FREEMEN LESS BRAVE THAN SLAVES? More than a Million White Men have left Comfortable Homes and joined the Armies of the Union to save their Country; Cannot we leave ours, and swell the Hosts of the Union, to save our liberties, vindicate our manhood, and deserve well of our Country?

MEN OF COLOR! All races of Men--the Englishman, the Irishman, the Frenchman, the German, the American, have been called to assert their claim to freedom and a manly character, by an appeal to the sword. The day that has seen an enslaved race in arms has, in all history, seen their last trial. We now see that OUR LAST OPPORTUNITY HAS COME! If we are not lower in the scale of humanity than Englishmen, Irishmen, white Americans and other races, we can show it now.

MEN OF COLOR! BROTHERS and FATHERS! WE APPEAL TO YOU! By all your concern for yourselves and your liberties, by all your regard for God and humanity, by all your desire for Citizenship and Equality before the law, by all your love for the Country, to stop at no subterfuge, listen to nothing that shall deter you from rallying for the Army. Come forward, and at once Enroll you Names for the Three Years’ Service. STRIKE NOW, and you are henceforth and forever FREEMEN!

K. D. Bassett
Wm. D. Forten
Frederick Douglass
Wm. Whipper (More info)
D. D. Turner
Jas. McCrummell
A. S. Cassey
A. M. Green
J. W. Page
L. R. Seymour
Rev. J. Underdue
John W. Price
Augustus Dorsey
Rev. Stephen Smith (More info)
N. W. Depee
Dr. J. H. Wilson
J. W. Cassey
P. J. Armstrong
J. W. Simpson
Rev. J. B. Trusty
S. Morgan Smith
Wm. E. Gipson,
Rev. J. Boulden
Rev. J. Asher
Rev. J. C. Gibbs
Daniel George
Robert M. Adger
Henry M. Cropper
Rev. J. B. Reeve
Rev. J. A. Williams
Rev. A. L. Stanford
Thomas J. Bowers
Elijah J. Davis
John P. Burr
Robert Jones
O. V. Catto (more on Catto)
Thos. J. Dorsey
I. D. Cliff
Jacob C. White
Morris Hall
James Needham
Rev. Elisha Weaver
Ebenezer Black
Rev. Wm. T. Catto
Jas. R. Gordon
Samuel Stewart
David B. Bowser
Henry Minton
Daniel Colley
J. C. White, Jr.
Rev. J. P. Campbell
Rev. W. J. Alston
J. P. Johnson
Franklin Turner
Jesse E. Glasgow.

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