In Connecticut, Republican Gov. William Buckingham pressed for the recruitment of blacks, and in a special session on Nov. 13, 1863, the Connecticut General Assembly approved the formation of black infantry units, although not without fiery, racially charged debate.
Calling it “the most disgraceful bill ever introduced into the Connecticut Legislature,” Democratic Rep. William W. Eaton of Hartford said he “would rather let loose the wild Comanchees than the ferocious negro. He is both ferocious and cowardly. … You will let loose upon every household south of the Mason and Dixon’s line a band of ferocious men who will spread lust and rapine all over that land.”
Eaton’s diatribe prompted editorial rebuttal the following day from the Hartford Daily Courant: “The armed negro is not a brutal and ferocious being, let loose to ravage and plunder. He has shown himself to be docile, humane and generous. He fights bravely, meeting dangers and death with alacrity, not merely for himself, but with the ennobling purpose of striking the manacles from the hands of his race.”