Those were the words uttered to a crowd of freedmen by Andrew Johnson. I suppose that in those times, simply the fact that he didn't want to own them as property must have made him seem very much the Liberator, but it seems a little disingenuous.
I don't want to make it seem like Johnson was any worse than any other white people at the time towards the blacks, but he sure wasn't much better.
Johnson didn't support emancipation of black people in the south as a moral imperative, but as a way to take the Aristocratic class down a few notches.
Johnson was a self made man, a Tailor that rose to success by his own hard work and ruthlessness and constantly fought for the 'mechanic class'. This would have been what we would call blue collar jobs these days and encompassed such professions as innkeepers, coachmen etc. Johnson saw, not inaccurately, that the slaves represented the ultimate cheap labor and forever would keep poor white people from ever making a 'living wage'.
I guess you could say he was the Lou Dobbs of his day, fighting to keep cheap foreign or in this case, black labor out of the country.
Did Johnson like the blacks and want them to make better lives for themselves? No.
Johnson basically wanted them to leave the country and head south to Mexico where they might in his words, mingle with the other mongrel races.
Here's another gem:
"I have lived among negroes, all my life, and I am for this Government with slavery under the Constitution as it is. I am for the Government of my fathers with negroes, I am for it without negroes. Before I would see this Government destroyed, I would send every negro back to Africa, disintegrated and blotted out of space. "
It just goes to show that the whole debate on emancipation was more than a black and white issue.