"BETTER EVEN TO DIE FREE, THAN TO LIVE SLAVES." ORIGINAL HAND COLORED PENCIL DRAWING DEPICTING A BLACK SOLDIER IN FULL MILITARY UNIFORM FROM THE 55TH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS. HE IS SEATED AT A TABLE WITH A UNION FLAG BEHIND HIM. IN HIS HAND HE HOLDS A PAPER TITLED "CO. G 55." IN PENCIL AT THE TOP RIGHT IN SARIF-STYLED LETTERING: "BETTER EVEN TO DIE FREE, THAN TO LIVE SLAVES." BENEATH THE SOLDIER IS "55TH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS." AT THE LOWER RIGHT CORNER IS "1863".

[Massachusetts? 1863?]. Broadside, 5-1/4" x 9." Original pencil drawing on heavy tan paper, finished with blue, red, yellow and flesh toned paints. The talented artist has rendered a well-proportioned likeness of this 55th Massachusetts Black Soldier in Union blue. The attention to the facial features makes it appear likely that someone posed for the drawing or copied from a photograph. Light fading, Very Good.

President Lincoln gave Massachusetts Governor Andrew permission to raise the 54th and 55th Colored Regiments in late January, 1863. As soon as Andrew issued the call, Frederick Douglass wrote "Men of Color, To Arms!" dated March 2, 1863; he published it on the front page of the March 1863 edition of his Rochester paper "Douglass' Monthly."
Douglass's Address states, "A war undertaken and brazenly carried on for the perpetual enslavement of coloured men, calls logically and loudly for coloured men to help and suppress it ... Liberty won by white men would lose half it's lustre. 'Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow.' 'Better even to die free, than to live slaves.' This is the sentiment of every brave coloured man amongst us." [Douglass: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS, London: 1862, pp.295-297; Douglass Monthly, March, 1863, Rochester, NY, p.1.]. Item #38570

Price: $7,500.00