"Colored Citizens, To Arms!"

This 1864 poster was used to recruit African-American soldiers for the 20th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, a Union Army regiment based in New York state. The poster offers the lure of an up-front payment of $375 plus an additional $10 for anyone signing up, but likely more persuasive was the sentiment borne by the stern-looking eagle: "Who would be Free, Himself must Strike the Blow!" Such recruitment efforts were met with an enthusiastic reception by African-American men of fighting age, with thousands enlisting after legislation was passed allowing them to serve in 1863.

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Focus Questions

Does the poster appeal more to personal or financial reasons for joining the army?

What words or phrases make a personal appeal to join the army?

What words or phrases make a financial appeal to join the army?

Source | Recruiting Poster, 20th Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops, c. 1864, broadside, ink on paper (New York: Francis & Loutrel, Stationers & Steam Printers).
Creator | Francis & Loutrel
Item Type | Poster/Print
Cite This document | Francis & Loutrel, “"Colored Citizens, To Arms!",” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 24, 2014, http://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1215.