Representative Roberts of Massachusetts Introduces Bill to Reinstate Colored Troops

January 5, 1907


A Northern congressman introduces a bill to let the unjustly discharged “colored” troops reenlist into the army or navy.


Representative Roberts of Massachusetts Introduces Bill to Reinstate Colored Troops
[Special dispatch to the Sunday Herald.]
           Washington, D. C., Dec. 15, 1906. Negroes from the northern States are bringing pressure on the House and Senate for relief from the President’s order depriving the discharged soldiers of the 25th Infantry of their rights as citizens. Petitions are pouring into the Capitol, and word has gone out that delegations are on their way here. There are indications that Congress is preparing to bow to the will of the colored voter. Congressman, especially from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia and other States where the Negro holds the balance of political power, are becoming anxious.
           The first bill for the re-habilitation of the discharged soldiers was introduced in the House to-day by Representative Roberts of Massachusetts. It was drawn by Negro suffrage leagues of New England. It is more modest in its terms than many Negro organizations are asking, making no demand for the revocation of the executive order promulgating the discharge of the reestablishment of the battalion.
           The bill provides that the noncommissioned officers and enlisted men of Companies B, C, and D, 25th Infantry, shall be eligible to re-enlistment in the military and naval forces of the United States with the same standing, rights and privileges to which they were entitled at the time of their discharge, and that they shall be eligible to civil employment, “notwithstanding the terms of the order under watch they were discharged.” It also provides that they shall incur no forfeiture of pay or other rights or privileges by reason of the President’s action.
If this bill comes up it will place Congress in direct antagonism to President Roosevelt.
The petition upon which Mr. Roberts acted is signed by William Monroe Trotter, president of the New England Suffrage League of Boston and similar societies. Many other congressmen are receiving similar petitions and the New England congressmen are deluged with letters demanding their support of the Roberts bill.
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Benton Camper


“Representative Roberts of Massachusetts Introduces Bill to Reinstate Colored Troops,” Black Virginia: The Richmond Planet, 1894-1909, accessed October 27, 2020,