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Equal Pay

Corporal James Henry Gooding was born a slave and enlisted in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry regiment after the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation. Gooding was a prolific writer and sent letters to editors of the New Bedford Mercury, which published them weekly and tracked the progress of the 54th Massachusetts. After participating in the unit's assault on Fort Wagner, Corporal Gooding wrote a letter to President Lincoln demanding equal pay for black soldiers. At that time, the United States Colored Troops received $7 per month, compared to white soldiers’ $13. Congress finally awarded equal pay to the United States Colored Troops on June 15, 1864. By then, Corporal Gooding was a prisoner of war at Andersonville, Georgia, where he died on July 19, 1864.