I just learned about this interesting letter from Abraham Lincoln to Sen. Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts. Lincoln had been visited by the widow of Major Lionel F. Booth, who had been killed at the battle of Fort Pillow while in command of colored (as they were called then) troops. Apparently the war department was not treating the widows and children of the colored troops who were killed in the battle as being legally married for the purposes of pensions, etc.. Mrs. Booth was seeking to do something about it.
Executive MansionWhat was happening then is still happening now, as veterans have to sue the Veterans Administration to be treated in non-marriage equality states the same way they would be treated in marriage equality states.
Washington, May 19, 1864
Hon. Charles Sumner
My Dear Sir:
The bearer of this is the widow of Major Booth, who fell at Fort Pillow. She makes a point which I think very worthy of consideration which is, widows and children in fact, of Colored soldiers who fell in our service, be placed in law, the same as if their mariages were legal, so that they can have the benefit of the provisions (?) the widows and orphans of white soldiers. Please see and hear Mrs. Booth.