Executive Mansion, Washington D.C.
July 30, 1863
It is the duty of every government to give protection to its citizens,
of whatever class, color, or condition, and especially to those who are
duly organized as soldiers in the public service. The law of nations and
the usages and customs of war as carried on by civilized powers, permit
no distinction as to color in the treatment of prisoners of war as public
enemies. To sell or enslave any captured person, on account of his color,
and for no offence against the laws of war, is a relapse into barbarism
and a crime against the civilization of the age.
The government of the United States will give the same protection to
all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because
of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy's
prisoners in our possession.
It is therefore ordered that for every soldier of the United States
killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed;
and for every one enslaved by the enemy or sold into slavery, a rebel soldier
shall be placed at hard labor on the public works and continued at such
labor until the other shall be released and receive the treatment due to
a prisoner of war