Surely this should satisfy the demands of all whose object is the defence and preservation of our government. If you require a soldier we offer you a Kentuckian.-- Will nothing but a Negro satisfy the Administration? What superiority has the slave over the Kentuckian that he should be prefered? I beg you to pause, consider and weigh well the consequences, before you spring a mine the awakened thunders of which may crash upon the ear of the present and coming generations. Kentuckians will obey willingly any law requiring their services in defence of their Government -- for this they hold to be their duty -- but they will not obey a law violative of their Constitutional rights as Citizens, which dishonors them by preferring the slave to the loyal Kentuckian and which takes private property for public use without just compensation, and without any necessity or excuse. Such law can only be enforced by a hard and dangerous constraint .. Kentuckians will sacrifice every thing for for principle -- but principle for nothing."
Bramlette's claim that white Kentuckians would willing serve the Union army if called on apparently does not hold water. It is true that more Kentuckians served in the Union army than in the Confederate army. Historian Anne E. Marshall, in her book Creating a Confederate Kentucky, claims that between 66,000 and 76,000 men served in the Union army while between 25,000 and 40,000 served the Confederacy." But, of those that served in the Union army, 24,000 were African American soldiers. Marshall also contends that, "Of Kentucky's eligible white males, 71 percent chose not to fight at all." African Americans proved more committed, as "40 percent of Kentucky's able bodied African American males served the Union." Only the state of Louisiana sent more blacks to the Union than Kentucky.
In the spring of 1864, to paraphrase a song from one hundred years later, the times, they were a changin', but most white Kentuckians did not want to see or believe it.
For Bramlette's complete letter go to: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:@field(DOCID+@lit(d3136600))