Transcription of Plaque: A Rare Monument In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers News of the bombardment of Fort Sumter inspired many African American men to enlist in the US armed forces, but federal law prohibited their service. Frederick Douglass and other black leaders urged changes to allow black enlistments. By mid-1862, as the number of white volunteers diminshed, the needs of the US Army grew, and the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation became imminent, more voices called for black recruitment. The Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, formally authorized African American military service. By the end of the war, about 180,000 blacks - including some from Perquimans County - had borne arms in the US Army (almost 10 percent of total enlistments) and about 19,000 had served in the US Navy. To remember the county's African America Union soldiers, women of the black community, many of them wives and widows of those men, erected one of the few such monuments in the nation on Academy Green in 1910. Coordinated by First Baptist Church and the United Daughters of Union Veterans, the monument is inscribed "In Memory of the Colored Union Soldiers Who Fought in the War of 1861-1865." Academy Green was the location of the county's first black school, library, and church (present-day First Baptist Church), which freedmen formed in a bush shelter in 1866. The congregation later built a church across the street.
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