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Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 42)
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Arrests continued to be made under authority of the
State Department, not without complaint, certainly, froifj
large numbers of the people, but with the general acqui-



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 379

eseence of the whole community, and beyond all question
greatly to the advantage of the Government and the coun
try. On the 14th of February, 1862, an order was issued
on the subject, which transferred control of the whole
matter to the War Department. The circumstances which
had made these arrests necessary are stated with so much
clearness and force in that order, that we insert it ai
length, as follows :

EXECUTIVE ORDERS IN RELATION TO STATE PRIS6NERS.

WAK DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, February 14

Tne breaking out of a formidable insurrection, based on a conflict of
political ideas, being an event without precedent in the United States,
was necessarily attended by great confusion and perplexity of the public
mind. Disloyalty, before unsuspected, suddenly became bold, and treason
astonished the world by bringing at once into the field military forces
superior in numbers to the standing army of the United States.

Every department of the Government was paralyzed by treason. De
jection appeared in the Senate, in the House of Representatives, in the
Cabinet, in the Federal Courts ; ministers and consuls returned from
foreign countries to enter the insurrectionary councils, or land or naval
forces; commanding and other officers of the army and in the navy be
trayed the councils or deserted their posts for commands in the insurgent
forces. Treason was flagrant in the revenue and in the post-office service,
as well as in the Territorial governments and in the Indian reserves.

Not only governors, judges, legislators, and ministerial officers in the
States, but even whole States, rushed, one after another, with apparent
unanimity, into rebellion. The Capital was besieged, and its connection
with all the States cut off.

Even in the portions of the country which were most loyal, political
combinations and secret societies were formed, furthering the work ol
disunion, while, from motives of disloyalty or cupidity, or from excited
passions or perverted sympathies, individuals were found furnishing men,
money, and materials of war and supplies to the insurgents military and
Haval forces. Armies, ships, fortifications, navy yards, arsenals, military
posts and garrisons, one after another, were betrayed or abandoned to the
insurgents.

Congress had not anticipated and so had not provided for the emergency.
The municipal authorities were powerless and inactive. The judicial ma
chinery seemed as if it had been designed not to sustain the Government,
but to embarrass and betray it.

Foreign intervention, openly invited and industriously instigated by the
abettors of the insurrection, became imminent, and has onlv been pre-



380 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

vented by the practice of strict and impartial justice, with the most perfect
moderation in our intercourse with nations.

The public mind was alarmed and apprehensive, though fortunately
iiot distracted or disheartened. It seemed to be doubtful whether the
Federal Government, which one year before had been thought a model
worthy of universal acceptance, had indeed the ability to defend and
maintain itself.

Some reverses, which perhaps were unavoidable, suffered by newly
levied and inefficient forces, discouraged the loyal, and gave new hope
lo the insurgents. Voluntary enlistments seemed about to cease, and
desertions commenced. Parties speculated upon the question whether
conscription had not become necessary to fill up the armies of the United
States.

In this emergency the President felt it his duty to employ with energy
the extraordinary powers which the Constitution confides to him in cases
of insurrection. He called into the field such military and naval forces,
unauthorized by the existing laws, as seemed necessary. He directed
measures to prevent the use of the post-office for treasonable correspond
ence. He subjected passengers to and from foreign countries to new
passport regulations, and he instituted a blockade, suspended the writ of
habeas corpus in various places, and caused persons who were represented
to him as being or about to engage in disloyal or treasonable practices to
be arrested by special civil as well as military agencies, arid detained in
military custody, when necessary, to prevent them and deter others from
such practices. Examinations of such cases were instituted, and some of
the persons so arrested have been discharged from time to time, under
circumstances or upon conditions compatible, as was thought, with the
public safety.

Meantime a favorable change of public opinion has occurred. The line
between loyalty and disloyalty is plainly defined ; the whole structure of
the Government is firm and stable ; apprehensions of public danger and
facilities for treasonable practices have diminished with the passions which
prompted heedless persons to adopt them. The insurrection is believed
to have culminated and to be declining.

The President, in view of these facts, and anxious to favor a return to
tl e normal course of the Administration, as far as regard for the public
welfare will allow, directs that all political prisoners or state prisoners
QOW held in military custody, be released on their subscribing to a parole
engaging them to render no aid or comfort to the enemies in hostility to
the United States.

The Secretary of War will, however, at his discretion, except from the
effect of this order any persons detained as spies in the service of the in
surgents, or others whose release at the present moment may be deemed
incompatible with the public safety.

To all persons who shall be so released, and who shall keep their parole,



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 381

the President grants an amnesty for any past offences of treason or dis-
l oyalty which they may have committed.

Extraordinary arrests will hereafter be made under the direction of the
military authorities alone.

By order of the President :

EDWIN M. STANTON. Secretary of War.

On the 27th. of the same month, a commission was ap
pointed "by the War Department, consisting of Major-
General Dix and Hon. Edwards Pierrepont, of New
York, to examine into the cases of the state prisoners
then remaining in custody, and to determine whether, in
view of the public safety and the existing rebellion, they
should be discharged, or remain in arrest, or be remitted
to the civil tribunals for trial. These gentlemen entered
at once upon the discharge of their duties, and a large
number of prisoners were released from custody on taking
the oath of allegiance. Wherever the public safety
seemed to require it, however, arrests continued to be
made the President, in every instance, assuming all the
responsibility of these acts, and throwing himself upon
the courts and the judgment of the country for his vindi
cation. But the President himself had not up to this time
directed any general suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus, or given any public notice of the rules by which
the Government would be guided in its action upon cases
that might arise. It was left to the Secretary of War to
decide in what instances and for what causes arrests should
be made, and the privilege of the writ should be sus
pended. In some of the courts into which these cases
were brought, the ground was accordingly taken that,
although the President might have authority under the
Constitution, when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the
public safety should require it, to suspend the writ, he
could not delegate that authority to any subordinate. To
meet this view, therefore, the President, on the 24th of
September, 1862, issued the following

PROCLAMATION.

Whereas, it haa been necessary to call into service, not only volunteers,
hut also portions of the militia of the States by draft, in order to supprew



382 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

the insurrection existing in the United States, and disloyal persons are
not adequately restrained by the ordinary processes of law from hindering
this measure, and from giving aid and comfort in various ways to the in
surrection :

Now, therefore, be it ordered

First. That during the existing insurrection, and as a necessary measum
for suppressing the same, all rebels and insurgents, their aiders and abettor* ,
within the United States, and all persons discouraging volunteer enlist
meuts, resisting military drafts, or guilty of any disloyal practice affording
ai 1 and comfort to the rebels against the authority of the United States,
Ahull be subject to martial law, and liable to trial and punishment by
courts-martial or military commission.

Second. That the writ of habeas corpus is suspended in respect to all
persons arrested, or who are now, or hereafter during the rebellion shall
be, imprisoned in any fort, camp, arsenal, military prison, or other place
of confinement, by any military authority, or by the sentence of an;?
court-rnartial or military commission.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal, and caused
the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-fourth day of
September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hun-
[L. s.] dred and sixty-two, and of the independence of the United
States the eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
By the President :

WILLIAM H. SEWAED, Secretary of State.

This proclamation was accompanied by orders from tho
War Department appointing a Provost- Marshal-General,
whose head-quarters were to be at Washington, with
special provost-marshals, one or more in each State,
charged with the duty of arresting deserters and disloyal
persons, and of inquiring into treasonable practices
throughout the country. They were authorized to call
upon either the civil or military authority for aid in the
discharge of their duties, and were required to report to
the department at Washington. The creation of this new
department had been made necessary by the increased
activity of the enemies of the Government throughout the
North, and by the degree of success which had attended
their efforts. Prompted partly by merely political and
partisan motives, but in many instances by thorough sym
pathy with the secession movement, active political lead-

f ;V



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 38b

era had set in vigorous motion very extensive machinery
for the advancement of their designs. " Peace-meetings "
were held in every section of the Northern States, at which
the action of the Government was most vehemently as
sailed, the objects of the war were misrepresented, and its
prosecution denounced, and special efforts made to prevent
enlistments, to promote desertions, and in every way to
cripple the Government in its efforts to subdue the rebel
lion by force of aims. The vigorous action of the Gov
ernment, however, in arresting men conspicuous in these
disloyal practices, had created a salutary reaction in the
public mind, and had so far relieved the Administration
from apprehension as to warrant the promulgation of thf>
following order :

WAS DKPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, November 22, 1862.

Ordered 1. That all persons now in military custody, who have been
arrested for discouraging volunteer enlistments, opposing the draft, or for
otherwise giving aid and comfort to the enemy, in States where the draft
has been made, or the quota of volunteers and militia has been furnished,
shall be discharged from further military restraint.

2. The persons who, by the authority of the military commander or
governor in rebel States, have been arrested and sent from such State for
disloyalty or hostility to the Government of the United States, and are
now in military custody, may also be discharged upon giving their parole
to do no act of h Mility against the Government of the United States, nor
render aid to ith enemies. But all such persons shall remain subject to
military surveiliar.ee and liable to arrest on breach of their parole. And
if any such persons shall prefer to leave the loyal States on condition of
their not returning again during the war, or until special leave for that
purpose be obtained from the President, then such persons shall, at hii
option, be released and depart from the United States, or be conveyed
beyond the military lines of the United States forces.

3, This order shall not operate to discharge any person who has been iv
arms against the Government, or by force and arms has resisted or at
tempted to resist the draft, nor relieve any person from liability to trial
*nd punishment by civil tribunals, or by court-martial or military commis
sion, who may be amenable to such tribunals for offences committed.

By crder of the Secretary of War :

E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant- General.

During the succeeding winter, while Congress was in
cession, public sentiment was comparatively at rest on this



384 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

subject. Congress had enacted a law, sanctioning the
action of the President in suspending the writ of habeas
corpus, and clothing him with full authority to check and
punish all attempts to defeat the efforts of the Government
in the prosecution of the war. After the adjournment,
however, when the political activity of the country was
transferred from the Capital to the people in their respec
tive localities, the party agitation was revived, and pu blic
meetings were again held to denounce the conduct of the
Government, and to protest against the further prosecu
tion of the war. One of the most active of these advo
cates of peace with the Rebel Confederacy was Hon. C. L.
Yallandigham, a member of Congress from Ohio, wno had
steadily opposed all measures for the prosecution of the
war throughout the session. After the adjournment he
made a political canvass of his district, and in a speech at
Mount Yernon, on the 1st of May, he denounced the Gov
eminent at Washington as aiming, in the conduct of the
war, not to restore the Union, but to crush out liberty and
establish a despotism. He declared that the war was
Taged for the freedom of the blacks and the enslaving of
the whites that the Government could have had peace
long before if it had desired it that the mediation of
France ought to have been accepted, and that the Govern
ment had deliberately rejected propositions by which the
Southern States could have been brought back to the
Union. He also denounced an order, No. 38, issued by
General Burnside, in command of the department, forbid
ding certain disloyal practices, and giving notice that per
sons declaring sympathy for the enemy would be arrested
for trial, proclaimed his intention to disobey it, and called
on the people who heard him to resist and defeat its exe
cution.

For this speech Mr. Vallandigham was arrested, by order
of General Burnside, on the 4th of May, and ordered for
tral before a court-martial at Cincinnati. On the 5th, he
applied, through his counsel, Senator Pugh, to the Circuit
Court of the llnited States for a writ of habeas corpus,
In reply to this application, a letter was read from Gen-



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 385

eral Burnside, setting forth the considerations which had
led him to make the arrest, and Vallandigham s counsel
was then heard in a very long argument on the case.
Judge Stewart pronounced his decision, refusing the writ,
on the ground that the action of General Burnside was
necessary for the public safety. " The legality of the ar
rest," said the judge, " depends upon the extent of the
necessity for making it, and that was to be determined by
the military commander." And he adds

Men should know and lay the truth to heart, that there is a course ot
conduct not involving overt treason, and not there lore subject to punish
ment as such, which, nevertheless, implies moral guilt, and a gross offence
against the country. Those who live under the protection and enjoy the
blessings of our benignant Government, must learn that they cannot stab
its vitals with impunity. If they cherish hatred and hostility to it, and
desire its subversion, let them withdraw from its jurisdiction, and seek the
fellowship and protection of those with whom they are in sympathy Ii
they remain with us, while they are not of us, they must be subject vO
such a course of dealing as the great law of self-preservation prescribes
and will enforce And let them not complain if the stringent doctrine of
military necessity should find them to be the legitimate subjects of its
action. I have no fear that the recognition of this doctrine will lead to
an arbitrary invasion of the personal security, or personal liberty, of the
citizen. It is rare indeed that a charge of disloyalty will be made on
insufficient grounds. But if there should be an occasional mistake, such
an occurrence is not to be put in competition with the preservation of the
nation ; and I confess I am but little moved by the eloquent appeals of
those who, while they indignantly denounce violation of personal liberty,
look with no horror upon a despotism as unmitigated as the world has
ever witnessed.

The military commission, before which Yallandighair
was ordered for trial, met on the 6th, found him guilty of
the principal offences charged, and sentenced him to be
placed in close confinement in some fortress of the United
States, to be designated by the commanding officer of that
department. Major-General Burnside approved the sen
tence, and designated Fort Warren, in Boston Harbor, as
the place of confinement. The President modified this
sentence by directing that, instead of being imprisoned,
^andigham should be sent within the rebel lines,
not return to the United States until after the



386 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

termination of the war. This sentence was at once carried
into execution.

The arrest, trial, and sentence of Mr. Vallandigham
created a good deal of excitement throughout the country.
The opponents of the Administration treated it as a case
of martyrdom, and held public meetings for the purpose
of denouncing the action of the Government as tyiannical
and highly dangerous to the public liberties. One of the
I \-irliest of those demonstrations was held at Albany, N.Y.,
MI the 16th of May, at which Hon. Erastus Corning pre
sided, and to which Governor Seymour addressed a letter,
expressing in the strongest terms his condemnation of the
course pursued by the Government. "If this proceed
ing," said he, speaking of the arrest of Vallaudigham, "is
approved by the Government, and sanctioned by the
people, it is not merely a step towards revolution it is
revolution. It will not only lead to military despotism
it establishes military despotism. In this aspect it must
be accepted, or in this aspect rejected. * * * The
people of this country now wait with the deepest anxiety
the decision of the Administration upon these acts. Hav
ing given it a generous support in the conduct of the war,
we pause to see what kind of a government it is for which
we are asked to pour out our blood and our treasure.
The action of the Administration will determine, in the
minds of more than one-half of the people of the loyal
States, whether this war is waged to put down rebellion
at the South, or destroy free institutions at the North."
The resolutions which were adopted at this meeting
pledged the Democratic party of the State to the preser
vation of the Union, but condemned in strong terms the
whole system of arbitrary arrests, and the suspension of
the writ of habeas corpus.

A copy of these resolutions was forwarded by the pre
siding officer to President Lincoln, who sent the follow
ing letter in reply :

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Stone 18, 1868.

Hon. EEASTUS COKNING AND OTHERS:

Gentlemen: Your letter of May 10, enclosing the resolutions of & pob



STATK PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 387

dc meeting held at Albany, N. Y., on the 16th of the same month, waa
received several days ago.

The resolutions, as I understand them, are resolvable into two proposi
tions : first, the expression of a purpose to sustain the cause of the Union,
to secure peace through victory, and to support the Administration in
every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion ; and,
secondly, a declaration of censure upon the Administration for supposed
unconstitutional action, such as the making of military arrests. And from
the two propositions a third is deduced, which is, that the gentlemen
composing the meeting are resolved on doing their part to maintain our
common Government and country, despite the folly or wickedness, aa
they may conceive, of any Administration. This position is eminently
patriotic, and as such I thank the meeting and congratulate the nation for
it. My own purpose is the same, so that the meeting and myself have a
common object, and can have no difference, except in the choice of means
or measures for effecting that object.

And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, if there were
no apprehension that more injurious consequences than any merely per
sonal to myself might follow the censures systematically cast upon me for
doing what, in my view of duty, I could not forbear. The resolutions
promise to support me in every constitutional and lawful measure to sup
press the rebellion, and I have not knowingly employed, nor shall know
ingly employ any other. But the meeting, by their resolutions, assert
and argue that certain military arrests, and proceedings following them,
for which I am ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. I think they
are not. The resolutions quote from the Constitution the definition of
treason, and also the limiting safeguards and guarantees therein provided
for the citizen on trial for treason, and on his being held to answer for
capital, or otherwise infamous crimes, and, in criminal prosecutions, his
right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. They proceed to
resolve "that these safeguards of the rights of the citizen against the
pretensions of arbitrary power were intended more especially for his pro
tection in times of civil commotion."

-, And, apparently to demonstrate the proposition, the resolutions pro
ceed : " They were secured substantially to the English people after yeari
of protracted civil war, and were adopted into our Constitution at the
close of the Revolution." Would not the demonstration have been better
if it could have been truly said that these safeguards had been adopted
and applied during the civil wars and during our Revolution, instead of
after the one and at the close of the other? I, too, am devotedly for them
after civil war, and before civil war, and at all times, " except when, in
cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require " their sus
pension. The resolutions proceed to tell us that these safeguards " have
stood the test of seventy-six years of trial, under our republican system,
nnder circumstances which show that, while they constitute the found*-



388 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

tion of all free government, they are the elements of the enduring sta
bility of the Republic." No one denies that they have so stood the test
np to the beginning of the present rebellion, if we except a certain occur
rence at New Orleans ; nor does any one question that they will stand
the same test much longer after the rebellion closes. But these provisions
of the Constitution have no application to the case we have in hand, be
cause the arrests complained of were not made for treason that is, not
for the treason defined in the Constitution, and upon conviction of which
the punishment is death nor yet were they made to hold persons
to answer for any capital or otherwise infamous crimes; nor were the
proceedings following, in any constitutional or legal sense, u criminal
prosecutions. " The arrests were made on totally different grounds, and
the proceedings following accorded with the grounds of the arrest. Let
us consider the real case with which we are dealing, and apply to it the
parts of the Constitution plainly made for such cases.

Prior to my installation here, it had been inculcated that any State had
a lawful right to secede from the National Union, and that it would be
expedient to exercise the right whenever the devotees of the doctrine
should fail to elect a President to their own liking. I was elected con
trary to their liking, and accordingly, so far as it was legally possible,
they had taken seven States out of the Union, had seized many of the
United States forts, and had fired upon the United States flag, all before



Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 39 of 42)