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Contested LoyaltyDebates over Patriotism in the Civil War North$
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Robert M. Sandow

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823279753

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823279753.001.0001

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“Deeds of Our Own”

“Deeds of Our Own”

Loyalty, Soldier Rights, and Protest in Northern Regiments of the United States Colored Troops

(p.268) “Deeds of Our Own”
Contested Loyalty

Thaddeus M. Romansky

Fordham University Press

In this essay, Thaddeus Romansky addresses expressions of national loyalty among African-Americans who joined the Union army. African-Americans both in and out of slavery were stigmatized and thought by many to be incapable of loyalty and citizenship. Military service, however, opened a way to take agency in achieving emancipation while laying claim to the status of loyal men in American society. Focusing on military protests of abusive treatment by white officers, Romansky contends that black soldiers saw the loyalty of their military service as entitling them to equal and fair treatment in the ranks. The author characterizes these protests as reflecting the internalization of broadly held notions of rights, liberty, and resistance to tyranny that formed the core of republicanism. In other ways, however, the sensitivity to claims of equality stemmed from long-suffered racial discrimination. Thus notions of loyalty were complicated by the issue of their race.

Keywords:   African-Americans, Loyalty, Military service, Mutiny, Protest

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