Document: Mary C. W. Wadsworth to Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 Brig. Gen. James S. Wadsworth was mortally wounded on May 6, 1864 while leading his division in the Wilderness. Fort Richmond, on Staten Island at the Narrows in New York Harbor, was renamed Fort Wadsworth in honor of the General.
Washington July 4th
I am very anxious that one of the new Forts now being erected in the harbour of New York should be named after my beloved husband-- It would be very gratifying to me & to his children. I believe you fully appreciate his noble patriotism, & devotion from the moment our great struggle began. He gave up all for his Country, & died for that Flag which he loved so dearly. In life he asked for no honours, & now that he has gone, it strikes me that it would be but a just tribute to the memory of such a patriot, to give his name to one of the Forts in the harbour approaching his native State. Hoping Mr President, that my proposal may meet with your favourable consideration, I remain,
Very Respectly & Sincerely
Mary C. W. Wadsworth
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
Mrs Gen. Wadsworth
Document: Weston, Massachusetts Soldiers Home to Abraham Lincoln, July 4, 1864
John Quincy Adam’s Soldiers National Home.
Weston, Mass. July 4th, 1864.
Respected Sir:-- We are, unanimously at this Retreat, of the opinion, that in your unparalleled labors -- you have done better than the best of Presidents For, when James Buchanon gave up to you the Ship of State she needed much repairing Every thing was wrong and rotten about her -- not a sound timber. No President ever took the Chair amid such peculiar trials. No President ever had such potent enemies or more powerful friends -- no President shall be elected, if the Soldiers can prevent it to another term of 4 years but Abraham Lincoln. All of us in 1856, voted for Mr. Buchanon or for Fremont: but sir -- when you were elected we obeyed your call. We have returned, most of us, with the loss of one of our limbs -- but we are not sorry -- we would go again and shoulder our muskets to put down a rebellion as damnable almost as that of Beelzebub’s in Heaven. Be encouraged -- you hold the soldier’s heart no less in this Home -- than in every Hospital -- the educated and the uneducated alike, all speak in highest terms of praise of your acts -- of your uncompromising terms to the Rebels. For all this we love you the more: No more, Mr. President, can our brawny arms cross the Rebel steel -- no more can we listen to the wild, rich music of 10,000 canon -- no more can we hear the vengeful screeching of the traitor-shell -- but we can outflank the copperheads and Rebels by voting you our Commander-in-Chief 4 years longer: and sir, we will, with a will too. Here we sit at the Home -- under the shade of the old Flag, commemorating the 4th in song and speech -- we fought and were disabled under that old Flag -- Heaven bless her -- may she soon be guided by the God of our Fathers, to wave over every inch of Rebel territory -- may the “God of Battles” O, Great Commander-in-Chief lead on your brave brave Grant and his armies to “everlasting light and victory”. May it soon of a truth be said, that this is the “land of the free and the home of the brave”. We know, full well, that you will never forget us when the “hurly burly’s done”. We know even now that you are in the van. Let your future motto be, “Bellum internecivum”.1 Go on to victory. God bless you and help you conquer your ophidious foes. God bless the noble Bostonians to whom we are indebted for this cool and shady retreat. Adieu, until next November-- Please accept his humble tribute of our respect to one whom we honor, and have obeyed. You are at liberty to use this letter as your Excellency shall determine. Witness our signatures.
1 Woodruff was an official of the city of St. Louis. The article contained an attack on former Treasury Secretary Chase, and praise for Frank Blair, Jr. for the part he played in Chase’s departure.
Your conduct towards your best supporters have been strange and you may calculate upon one thing -- and that we’ll turn out sure-- The German element elected you and it will be the German element that will defeat you -- you appear to have done all that lay in your power to insult that class of our citizen. A paralel -- John Tyler had a convention of office holders and they nominated him for the Presidency by aclimation. The people rejection him by the vote. Do you reccollect the letter you wrote me from Springfield -- Feby 1861? [From?] Yours
Truman Woodruff d3427400
Document: David Davis to Abraham Lincoln, July 5, 1864
The following Telegram received at Washington, 540 P. M. July 5 1864.
2 Solomon Newton Pettis was an attorney of Meadville, Pennsylvania, who had been appointed associate justice of Colorado Territory in 1861.
3 See Lincoln to Henry S. Huidekoper, September 1, 1864. Judge Pettis and Lt. Col. Huidekoper of the 150th Pennsylvania had convinced Lincoln that some Confederate prisoners of Northern and foreign birth were apt candidates for service in Northern units. Lincoln therefore ordered Huidekoper to proceed to the prison camp at Rock Island, Illinois to determine which prisoners there might be willing to take the oath of allegiance and serve the Union.
I believe that every thing so far on his part and that of Col Huidekoper had been done frankly and with perfect fidelity.
Our people are much pleased with the arrangement and fully appreciate the benefits it has secured to them. Nothing could have been done that would have produced a better state of feeling in our midst.
The Judge & Col. Huidekoper have consulted with me fully as they have proceeded.
Document: Charles P. Leslie to Abraham Lincoln, July 5, 1864
Washington July 5. 64
The information I gave you some time since in regard to the postponement of the Chicago Convention having proved correct I trust your Excellency will allow me to prophesy once more although I am neither a Prophet nor the son of a Prophet1
Document: Abraham Lincoln to William H. Seward, July 6, 1864 [Copy in Frederick Seward’s Hand]1
1 This copy is of an endorsement by Lincoln on an empty envelope. However John W. Garrett, president of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, had been keeping Lincoln apprised of the progress of Confederate General Jubal Early as he advanced through Harper’s Ferry toward Washington. See Garrett to Lincoln, July 5 and July 9, 1864, and Collected Works, VII, 424, 429.
2 Copies of Lincoln’s correspondence with Seward were provided to John G. Nicolay by Seward’s son and secretary, Frederick W. Seward.
I find the within from Garrett this morning-- The big bundle herewith is that we spoke of this morning.
July 6. 1864.
Document: Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1864
Washington, July 6. 1864.
Some two or three months ago, there was in this office, a short petition for the pardon or commutation of one Peter Gooden, convicted of murder. There was on the petition, a favorable endorsement, by one or two of the Judges of the Supr Ct of this district.
I cannot now lay my hand upon the paper -- & my very efficient Pardon Clerk, has some vague memory that I took it to you.
Will you please cause search to be made & if found, send it to me, and so oblige
Yr obt servt
Edwd Bates d3429200
Document: Mark W. Delahay to Abraham Lincoln, July 6, 1864
2 See Collected Works, VII, 424. Maj. Gen. Franz Sigel’s forces were defending Harper’s Ferry from the attack of the rebel general Jubal A. Early.
3 Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Kelley
4 Maj. Gen. David Hunter
I will promptly communicate any information of interest I can obtain.
John W. Garrett
Document: R. Stockett Mathews to Abraham Lincoln, July 6, 1864
Baltimore July. 6” 1864
I am requested by a Committee of the loyal Colored men and women of the City of Baltimore to inform you that they desire to present to you, at your earliest convenience for its reception, a superb copy of the Bible, which has been prepared for them, and which they design as an expression of their of their gratitude to you for what you have done in behalf of their race--
The enclosed slip from the American of this date will give you some idea of the beautiful and unique thank-offering of these honest and grateful people--
I beg, your Excellency, to advise me on what day, and at what hour, you will afford a delegation of colored men an opportunity of fulfilling the wishes of their friends--
It will give me great pleasure to introduce them to you.1
1 The Bible was presented to the president by Mathews’s group on September 7, 1864. See James W. Tyson to Lincoln, August 26, 1864; R. Stockett Mathews to Lincoln, August 31, 1864; and Collected Works, VII, 542.
Yr obt servt.
R. Stockett Mathews.
[Endorsed by John Hay:]
“The President will see this Committee whenever they do him the honor to call.”
Document: James M. Edmunds, Memorandum, [July 7, 1864]1
1 Edmunds was commissioner of the General Land Office and grand president of the Union League of America.
The proposed act of clemency will not only be just in itself, but it will come at a time, and be a concession to those who will deeply appreciate it at this time--2
2 See John P. Usher to Lincoln, July 7, 1864.
J M E--
Document: Horace Greeley to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1864
And thereupon I venture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country also longs for peace -- shudders at the prospect of fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, and of new rivers of human blood. And a wide-spread conviction that the Government and its prominent supporters are not anxious for Peace, and do not improve proffered opportunities to achieve it, is doing great harm now, and is morally certain, unless removed, to do far greater in the approaching Elections.
I entreat you, in your own time and manner, to submit overtures for pacification to the Southern insurgents which the impartial must pronounce frank and generous. If only with a view to the momentous Election soon to occur in North Carolina, and of the Draft to be enforced in the Free States, this should be done at once.
I would give the safe conduct required by the Rebel envoys at Niagara, upon their parole to avoid observation and to refrain from all communication with their sympathizers in the loyal States; but you may see reasons for declining it. But, whether through them or otherwise, do not, I entreat you, fail to make the Southern people comprehend that you and all of us are anxious for peace, and prepared to grant liberal terms. I venture to suggest the following
Plan of Adjustment.
1. The Union is restored and declared perpetual.
2. Slavery is utterly and forever abolished throughout the same.
3. A complete Amnesty for all political offenses, with a restoration of all the inhabitants of each State to all the privileges of citizens of the United States.
4. The Union to pay $400,000,000 in five per cent. U. S. Stock to the late Slave States, loyal and Secession alike, to be apportioned pro rata according to their Slave population respectively, by the Census of 1860, in compensation for the losses of their loyal citizens by the Abolition of Slavery. Each State to be entitled to its quota upon the ratification, by its Legislature, of this adjustment. The bonds to be at the absolute disposal of the Legislature aforesaid.
5. The said Slaves States to be entitled henceforth to representation in the House on the basis of their total instead of their Federal population -- the whole being now Free.
6. A National Convention, to be assembled so soon as may be, to ratify this adjustment and make such changes in the Constitution as shall be deemed advisable.
Mr. President, I fear you do not realize how intently the People desire any Peace consistent with the National integrity and honor, and how joyously they would hail its achievement and bless its authors. With U. S. Stocks worth but forty cents, in gold, per dollars, and drafting about to commence on the third million of Union soldiers, can this be wondered at?
I do not say that a just Peace is now attainable, though I believe it to be so. But I do say that a frank offer by you to the insurgents of terms which the impartial will say ought to be accepted, will, at the worst, prove an immense and sorely-needed advantage to the National cause: it may save us from a Northern insurrection.
P. S. Even though it should be deemed unadvisable to make an offer of terms to the Rebels, I insist that, in any possible way it is desirable that any offer they may be disposed to make should be received and either accepted or rejected. I beg you to write those now at Niagara to exhibit their credentials and submit their ultimatum.
Document: M. C. Moe to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1864
July 7, 1864
Under existing circumstances I feel it my duty to inform you of the facts which have come to my knowledge within the last three months in reference to an insurrectionary movement in the northern states and in Canada against the Gov. of the U. S.
2 Johnson’s Island was a Union prison camp at Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie.
There is also nine propellers and several side-wheel steamers at the service of those conspirators on the lakes and on your frontier towns. And it is also determined at all hazards to sieze the U. S. Gun-boat Mich. It has been positively stated to me by an officer in their ranks that Velandingham has an enrollment list containing the names of sixty four thousand one hundred that deserted from the U. S. A. four thousand Canadians and nine thousand Irish all living at present in Canada and in the states of Wis. Ill. Mich. Ohio Penn. & N. Y. two hundred and seventeen thousands up to the 15, of June last beside considerable forces in Mss. Ind. Ken. & Maryland also a large number of Officers and men now in the union army who are all anxiously waiting for the time to arrive to strike a deadly blow at this Gov. Vellandingham assures his followers of success and great Gains by plundering the black republicans as he calls them.3
3 There was a plot afoot in the summer of 1864 that involved the use of Canadian refugees and Copperheads to release Confederate prisoners held in Illinois, a preliminary step to seizing the governments of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The plot was discovered and thwarted. See a report of the trial of the conspirators in Official Records, Series II, Volume 8, 684-89.
The whole affair is being very systematically arranged and large amounts of money are being contributed and agents sent to Canada to purchase provisions and stores of all kinds and every thing necessary for the Campaign. It is not intended to make any demonstration before the presidential election comes on if the south can hold out succesfully until that time and then they will concentrate their forces and commence their work of destruction on the lakes and the frontiers. Velandngham asserts positively that they will bring at least three hundred thousand men into the field armed and equipped for a campaign of one year if necessary, to hearl that tyrant Lyncoln from the high position he now occupies and restore peace and happiness to this once happy Poeple and again reinstate democracy in its purity.
It was by mere accident that I first learned any thing of these arrangements and then I placed myself in a position to get what information I could on the subject which I here give you which I trust will be of service to you in breaking up the whole affair before it is to late I am satisfied that if you inform the Gov. of Canada of what is going on he will cooperate with you in putting it down. I got all my information from a cousin of mine in Canada who is a Colonel in a Canadian Reg. raised for this expedition
If you find it necessary to make this exposeure public you will be kind enough to withhold my name for if it should become known that I was the party that exposed their plans it my property (though small) if not my life would pay the forfeit
Your Obd Servt. &c
M. C. Moe d3432600
Document: John Owen to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1864
Washington July 7th/64
Your humble servent approaches you, with fealings of respect, also fealings of of honor, I have applyed for work -- I would say, diferent places, and found none -- my chance [Ile?] run with your kindness, what I want you to do for me, is Sir -- a command which is to say, excuse me sir, I have bene down to the Yard. & Mr-- Holroys foreman requested me to call after awhile -- and I have taken the liberty to introduce myself to the hon. Abm Lincoln as John Owen of Phila likewise of Chicago also of Paterson New Jersey a Mechanick-- Sir my fealings are hard up, any favours betoken of friendship and honor will be appreciated by your friend
refer. Mr Cook of Paterson N J
“ Sellen of Phila
N. Yard -- Brooklyn N Y
note. address me through the P. Office-- John Owen in haste
I am broke flat
& one word from
you will settle the
question help me
yours &c Sv
at. 3. Oclock P. M
[Endorsed by John Hay:]
The President directs me to say that he has no employment within his gift, for the writer.
Document: John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1864
1 See James M. Edmunds memorandum, [July 7, 1864]. Edmunds was the commissioner of the General Land Office and grand president of the Union League of America.
J. P. Usher
[Endorsed on Envelope by John P. Usher:]
To the President
will Mr Hay please look at the enclosed so to enable him to explain to the President their contents, and advise me what action the President takes in the case. J. P. U.
[Endorsement on Envelope:]
July 7, 1864
Document: Abraham Lincoln, Parole for Frank Wolford, July 7, 1864 [Copy]1
1 Frank Wolford, a Colonel in the Kentucky Volunteer Cavalry, had been imprisoned in Knoxville, Tennessee for making a speech against using blacks as soldiers, for which he was eventually tried for disloyalty and dismissed from the service. See CollectedWorks, VII, 431. Lincoln here wrote out a parole for Wolford allowing him to go to Louisville, Ky. On July 17, Lincoln sent James Speed in Louisville another parole for him to sign (q. v.). For Wolford’s response to this offer and a vigorous defense of his actions, see Frank Wolford to Lincoln, July 30, 1864.
Washington, July 7. 1864.
I have hereby give my parol of honor, that if allowed, I will forthwith proceed to Louisville Kentucky, and there remain, until the court for my trial shall arrive, when I will report myself to their charge, and that in the mean time I will abstain from public speaking, and every thing intended or calculated to produce excitement--
Document: Francis H. Peirpoint to Abraham Lincoln, July 8, 1864
Alexandria, Va., July 8 1864
Since I wrote you the other day in regard to the action of Gen Butler in taking vote in Norfolk &c. I have obtained an analysis of the vote which rely on as correct -- of those who voted for abolishing the civil government.1
I am happy honored Sir, to be the medium of presentation, and am
Yours with great Respect
L. J. Leberman
No 22 North Third Street
Philadelphia July 8th 1864.
by Adams Express
Document: Rufus K. Williams to Abraham Lincoln, July 8, 18641
1 Williams was a judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals.
Louisville Ky July 8 1864
Supposing you would like to hear from Kentucky, I will say your late proclamation relative to Ky is well received by the Unconditional Union men, the Conservative Union men dont know what to think about it, whilst the peace Democracy say it forebodes evil to them.2
2 Lincoln’s proclamation of July 5 suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Kentucky. See Collected Works, VII, 425-27.
The war between the Conservatives and peace Democracy is getting pretty fierce. Guthrie &c supposed they would be welcomed with affectionate embrace into the democratic ranks but in this they have been sadly disappointed and feel greatly chagrined. The peace Democracy alias secessionest held their Convention here 28th Ulto and nominated a full electoral ticket and Delegation to the Chicago Convention, and intend contesting the seats with the Conservative Union Delegation, all this is working greatly to our advantage.
In the mean time I have just concluded a conditional negotiation for half of the Louisville Journal, at Seventy five thousand dollars, and am waiting to hear from three friends before consemating the negotiation, & shall not go home until the matter is closed, which it will be in a few days unless something unforseen should transpire.
If the pro Slavery interest were to get an inkling of it the arrangement would doubtless be broken off, hence the greatest secrecy is necessary.
It is to become a thorough Administration paper but as to the time when your name will be hoisted remains to be dictated by what may be deemed politic and the more certainly to accomplish the great object.
It is a great very great object of my heart to carry Kentucky for you; if this arrangement is consumated Kentucky will be as certain for you as any State in the Union
Whilst much prejudice and feelings have manifest against negro enlistments at first it is daily giving away, and the thing will go quietly on I think, the late act repealing the Commutation clause will greatly aid in reconciling all parties to negro enlistments, this is already apparent, as each negro will save a white man and reduces the chance of such being conscripted.
Document: Abraham Lincoln to Horace Greeley, July 9, 1864 [Draft]1
1 Greeley, the influential editor of the New York Tribune, had written Lincoln on July 7 (q. v.), urging him to meet with representatives of Jefferson Davis. Greeley’s letter was prompted by assurances he had received from a dubious intermediary that such representatives were in Canada, at Niagara Falls, awaiting the opportunity to negotiate a peace. Greeley had stressed the importance he attached to this opening, and Lincoln’s apparently enthusiastic response outlines the terms that would make negotiations possible. Lincoln had reason to believe, however, that Davis would not consent to terms “embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery.” Greeley’s involvement in this affair culminated in a futile trip to Niagara Falls in Canada. See William C. Jewett to Horace Greeley, July 5, 1864; Greeley to Lincoln, July 10, 13, 1864; Lincoln to Greeley, July 15, 1864; John Hay to Lincoln, July 16, 1864; Lincoln to Hay July 16, 1864; and Lincoln to Whom It May Concern, July 18, 1864.
Washington, D. C. July 9. 1864
Your letter of the 7th, with inclosures, received-- If you can find anywhere, any person anywhere professing to have any proposition of Jefferson Davis in writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of slavery, what ever else it embraces, say to him he may come to me with you, and that if he really brings such proposition, he shall, at the least, have safe conduct, with the paper, (and without publicity, if he chooses,) to the point where you shall have met him-- This same, if there be two or more persons--
Document: Francis P. Blair Jr. to Montgomery Blair, July 9, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 Representative Henry L. Dawes of Massachusetts and Senator Lyman Trumbull of Illinois chaired committees in their respective bodies that considered the question of Blair’s membership in Congress while concurrently holding a military commission.
In regard to Blair’s other concern, Colonel William W. Belknap was promoted brigadier general of volunteers to rank from July 30, 1864.
1 Garrett was president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
The following Telegram received at Washington, 7.15 P M. July 9 1864.
From Camden Stn July 9 1864.
At 10.30 this A. M operator at Monocacy stated there was then severe fighting near that point our forces shelling the Enemy who had advanced to within three quarters of a mile of Monocacy on the Road from Frederick to Georgetown.2
2 Jubal Early’s Confederate army attacked Union forces under Maj. Gen. Lewis Wallace along the Monocacy River in Maryland at about 8:00 a.m. on July 9.
4 Lt. Col. David R. Clendenin of the 8th Illinois Cavalry.
We removed every thing possible from the City, sick & wounded stores &c.
Two Citizens were arrested by our retiring skirmishers making signals to rebels last night from the City. Gen Hds Head Qrs here this saturday morning Rebels advancing & are now skirmishing with our Guard who hold the Bridge on Balto Pike-- Rebels levies levied twenty thousand dollars on Citizens of Middletown Pillaging the place. In fight on Thursday we killed 143 Rebels our loss 18 all told. Capt Morris 8th Ill Cavy killed friday fighting & about dozen of our men.
5 Brig. Gen. Bradley T. Johnson and Brig. Gen. John McCausland, Confederate cavalry commanders.
Enemy are said to be advancing in Heavy force down Balto Pike.
The two troop trains proceeded from Monrovia west But I regret to advise are just reported returned to that point and that force is now at Monrovia with the trains our telegraph operator at Monrovia which is eight Miles east of Monocacy this instant telegraphs that an aid of Gen Wallace has arrived there who reports that “our troops at Monocacy have given way and that Gen Wallace has been badly defeated” The Bridge having been abandoned. The reason Given for their return is that the rebels were seen near Ijamsville three mile west of Monrovia.
1 General Grant had requested the Secretary of War to direct Rosecrans to release Dr. James A. Barrett of St. Louis, a local Copperhead leader, but an old neighbor of Grant’s and one whom the General thought to be harmless. Rosecrans was accordingly directed to free his prisoner. See Official Records, Series II, Volume 7, 411, 417. Lincoln had not heard of the case and directed Rosecrans to keep Barrett in prison. See Collected Works, VII, 436.
W. S. Rosecrans
Document: Green Clay Smith to Abraham Lincoln, July 9, 1864
Covington, July 9” 1864
Before I left Washington some of my friends suggested to me, to apply for the position of Consul General to Cuba-- I was dissuaded from it by others-- Upon maturer reflection, I have concluded to ask that honor at your hands -- and hope you will be able to give it--
I know there have been many applicants hence the diffidence on my part, but when you hear my reasons I trust you will fully appreciate my motives--
In the first place I am poor, and desire the salery-- I cannot in these times support my family as a member of Congress-- I must abandon it, & return to my business at home, if I fail in this.
By the Rebels, a small farm in Ky, which gave me a small income, has been entirely destroyed so that it cannot be cultivated hence I loose that-- Upon my return from Congress I find I have to go hard to work to feed and clothe my wife and children-- If I have a desire above any other it is to work for my Country and do all in my power to restore it to peace and union-- I would do this in any way I could at home, in the states, but my family demand, & it is my duty to give them my first attention & labor; now this office I ask for has a salery of $7-500 on which I can very well get along--
I have writen thus plainly Mr. President because it is the truth -- and if you can consistantly give me the place I will be under everlasting obligations--1
As the ends desired can only be secured by secrecy in making, or in carrying out this arrangement, I beg that this may be confined to your own knowledge only.
If I succeed, I shall bring home as soon as possible the conditional paper.
Mr George Peabody, the eminent Banker made a suggestion which I said I would send to you-- It was that you ask for 50.000 Volunteers to serve only at, and for the defence of Washington -- the condition of their service being that they are to be ordered to no other place or service. He thinks you would get the best men of the Country -- and at one half the rate of bounty-- Mr Peabody was himself a volunteer to defend Washington in the last war with Great Britain
I am Very Truly yours
Ambrose W Thompson
Document: Horace Greeley to Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 1864
2 Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens.
Meantime, I wish you would consider the propriety of somehow apprising the People of the South, especially those of North Carolina, that no overture or advance looking to Peace and Reunion has ever been repelled by you, but that such a one would at any time have been cordially received and favorably regarded -- and would still be.
Document: Edwin M. Stanton to Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 1864
These twenty months have taught me patience. I am still waiting, searching the Telegraph every day for -- “So much of an order &c &c”. Amid this suspense & discomfort, I have borne my first child. Shall its heritage be disgrace?
Ah I know you will not be unjust, because Sec Stanton is insubordinate.
I am Sir
Hagar. J. Weston
Document: Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, July 11, 1864
1 For the letters Bates enclosed, see Charles H. Porter to Edward K. Snead, June 18, 1864; Snead to Francis H. Peirpoint, June 18, 1864; and Peirpoint to Lincoln, July 8, 1864.
2 George F. Shepley and Benjamin F. Butler
3 For additional correspondence pertaining to the civil-military dispute at Norfolk, see Peirpoint to Lincoln, June 25, 1864; Peirpoint to Bates, July 4, 1864; and Benjamin F. Butler to Lincoln, August 1, 1864.
I will not trouble you sir, with any remarks upon the strange and dangerous anomaly of a mere military officer ordering an election by the people, upon any subject, and without any reference to the laws of the land; and I, designedly, abstain from making any observations upon the plain absurdity of appealing to a popular vote to determine the question whether the laws of the land shall prevail, or martial law be established in their stead, in any particular locality; nor shall I discuss the honesty and fairness of the election itself. The officers of Virginia will be able to place those questions before you, in their proper light.
But my duty, as chief law-officer of your administration, constrains me to present to you this important matter, and to entreat you to give to it your most serious consideration.
The avowed object is to abolish the Civil Law in the City of Norfolk (and its environs) and to establish in its stead martial law -- that is, the will and pleasure of the military commander there, for the time being. The assumed motive is a desire to comply with the wishes of the People, who, it seems, prefer to live under a military despotism, rather than remain under the laws of Virginia. This, I assume to be the only motive avowed, for this novel experiment in government; for Genl Shepley, in his order of June 22. 1864, initiating the extraordinary measure, assigns no other motive, and does not allege any ground of military necessity, which might justify or excuse a measure so sumary and so stringent.
And the means chosen to compass the end are as simple and radical as a military order can make them-- Genl Shepley orders a popular election to be held to determine, substantially the question whether the people of Norfolk shall be governed by Civil Law or no law. He settled the qualifications of voter (as Govr Pierepoint insists) contrary to the constitution of Virginia, so that, by the General’s order, persons were allowed to vote, who were forbidden by the constitution. He fixed his election, for law or no law, at the day and place of the legal municipal election, and required a poll to be then and there opened; and, surmising that the legal election officers might not choose to entangle themselves in such an unlawful proceeding, he provided that, in case of their failure, the Provost Martial should appoint persons “to receive and count and declare the votes.”
And, the mock election over, (resulting of course, according to the order of the commanding General) the revolution is supposed to be fully accomplished, by Gen. Butler’s compendious order of June 30. 1864, which purports to vest in his subordinates, both military and civil, all power over the people and affairs of Norfolk -- and threatens the lawful officers, with military punishment, in case they presume to exercise their lawful functions! This amounts to a total suppression of civil government, in Norfolk, and is, in my judgment, a very grave offence.
In order to show in what dangerous spirit this measure is conceived, and in what wantonness of power it is sought to be carried out, I beg to draw your attention to the language of two short paragraphs in Genl. Butler’s order. They read thus--
“A pamphlet was published by a person who called himself Governor, and whose means of living largely depended upon the votes cast in favor of the Civil Government, upon the “abuses of military power.”
A proclamation was issued to intimidate the citizens from voting, by the same person, pretending to be the head of the restored government of Virginia, which Government is unrecognized by the Congress, Laws, and Constitution of the United States.”
In this sir, you cannot but perceive that the General treats the Governor of Virginia with studied insult and contempt. He designates him, in one place as “a person who called himself Governor,” and in another place, as “the same person, pretending to be the head of the restored government of Virginia”. I can hardly suppose sir, that such gross indignity offered by one of your subordinate officers, to the chief Magistrate of a State, will pass without rebuke.
And this, perhaps, is not the worst exhibition of the General’s reckless disregard of legal authority in others. In the last paragraph above quoted, speaking of the Restored government of Virginia, he says -- “which Government is unrecognized by the Congress, Laws and Constitution of the United States.”
Now it is hardly respectful to Gen. Butler to suppose that he could be ignorant of the many and various acts and forms in which, both the President and the Congress have fully recognized the restored government of Virginia. And presuming him cognizant of those acts, I am forced to draw the inference that he considers them null and void, whether done by the President or by Congress. I fear that he may have been misled by a false doctrine, newly discovered and put forth, by some extreme politicians, to the effect that a State in insurrection, is out of the union, and is no part of the United States.
It is a part of our history, as well known as any other part, that both Congress and the President did recognize the restored government of Virginia, from the very beginning of its organization. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives, respectfully, admitted members, chosen under the restored government. And, by the action of both houses, the act was passed for the admission into the Union of the new State of West Virginia. That act recognizes and affirms the Restored Government; for, without the legal and constitutional existence of the Legislature of that Government, the State of West Virginia could not have been formed and admitted into the Union.
And as for the recognition by the President (which, indeed, the General’s order does not deny, while it denies the recognition by the Congress, Laws and Constitution) that is as notorious, and as variously displayed, as in regard to the State Governments of New York and Massachusetts.
Thus Mr President I have ventured to lay before you, some of my views of this unhappy transaction. I believe that the proceeding of the military at Norfolk, is not only wrong in itself, but of the most evil tendency, in spreading the belief that the law is no longer to be respected, nor judicial justice hoped for. And now sir, I conclude, by expressing the hope that you will find it right to cause those military orders to be promptly revoked; and in such manner as to prevent the repetition, there or elsewhere.
I am sir, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant
Document: Charles Gibson to Abraham Lincoln, July 11, 18641
1 This letter was enclosed in James C. Welling to John Hay, July 23, 1864. See also Hay to Welling, July 25, 1864.
St Louis July 11th 1864.
I was appointed to office by you at a time when it was deemed advisable for the public welfare, especially in Missouri, to conciliate those -- of whom I was one -- who did not belong to the party that elected you President, but who obeyed & actively supported you as the duly elected Chief Magistrate of the Nation, and who were unconditionally for the Union.
It was then universally conceded among loyal men of all classes, that we of the Border States, who cheerfully sacrificed social relations and domestic ties, old, deep rooted & hereditary feelings sympathies, & habits and in many cases property & life for the country; and who continued to obey you & those in authority under you, and to support the Union cause actively and devotedly, although we regretted our inability to persuade you to adopt the line of policy we deemed best calculated to promote the common cause, and although we could not approve of some measures ordained by you, were worthy of “public confidence and official trust”
The Baltimore Convention has, however, decided to banish from your administration all conservative men and all moderate counsel by resolving unanimously that those only are “worthy of public confidence or official trust,” who “cordially indorse” its platform; and in your letter of acceptance this resolution, among others, is “heartily approved.” The Convention has given a still more emphatic & practical evidence of its real feelings & principles in admitting almost unanimously the American radical Delegates from this state; & by excluding with equal unanimity the Delegates of the Conservative Party, and thus the Convention by adopting the “We are the Revolution party” has itself, as regards this State, become “the Revolution”
Under these circumstances my retention of office under you would be wholely useless to the country, as well as inconsistent with my principles & with that perfect candor & sincerity that ought to exist between you & all your subordinates, and I therefore resign the office of “Solicitor of the United States for the Court of Claims”
I accepted the office solely as a patriotic duty, & at considerable personal & pecuniary sacrifice. It is the only office I ever held or expect to hold. I am deeply grateful to you, Mr President, for the personal kindness & consideration with which you have treated me, & I would continue to serve you if it were consistent with my convictions of duty or if I could by so doing be of any further service to the country
I have the honor to be
Your Humble Servant
Document: Ulysses S. Grant to Abraham Lincoln, July 10, 1864