Martin Robison Delany, 6 May 1812 - 25 Jan 1885 Search this
Hand-colored lithograph on paper
Image: 52.2 x 43.8cm (20 9/16 x 17 1/4")
Mat: 76.2 x 61cm (30 x 24")
When the Emancipation Proclamation formally opened the door to African American service in the Union army, Martin R. Delany—a longtime activist in the struggle for black equality—worked energetically to recruit soldiers for black Union regiments. Troubled by the fact that these units were led by white officers, Delany approached President Lincoln in February 1865 with a proposal to create a fighting force under the command of black officers, whose ranks would be filled largely by emancipated slaves. After Lincoln approved the plan and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton endorsed it, Delany became the first black major to receive a field command when he was commissioned to lead the 104th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops. He was ordered to Charleston, South Carolina, to establish a training camp and recruit black officers and foot soldiers, but the war ended before Delany or his troops saw action on the battlefield.