General David Hunter, Department of the South to Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, President of the National Freedmen's Relief Association American Missionary, September 1862 AMA Records
Notes: This letter dated July 17, 1862 is from General David Hunter, head of the Department of the South, to Rev. Stephen H. Tyng, head of the National Freedmen's Relief Association. It was later published in the New York Tribune and reprinted in the American Missionary (the magazine of the American Missionary Association).
General Hunter was an abolitionist (and very political) General. He accompanied Lincoln to Washington, D. C. and would later accompany Lincoln's body back. He was the presiding officer on the trial of the individuals who conspired to kill the President and other officers of the government. This letter is his defense of his actions in his proclamation freeing the slaves of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and forming the first African American regiment.
The second paragraph gives his feelings toward emancipation: "enables me to wait with more patience for those inevitable days which are to give a policy on the slavery question to our government."
He was a believer in total warfare: "Nothing can give us permanent peace but a successful prosecution of the war, with every weapon and energy at our command, to its logical and legitimate conclusion." Not only would the issue of slavery and arming African Americans be part of this but later he would carrying this message in the burning of parts of the Shenadoah valley.
He was a visionary that was simply a few months ahead of his time. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation would be out on September 22, 1862. Surprisingly July 17, 1862 was the date of the Congressional authorization for the recruitment of African American troops which would be folded into the Emancipation Proclamation.
General Hunter would be relieved of command in August 1862.