Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 41)
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permanent foothold, but where the Government at Wash-
ington had found it necessary to commit the local author-
ity to Andrew Johnson, as Provisional Governor, there had
been a very strong party in favor of restoring the State to
its former position as a member of the Federal Union. But
in Louisiana the movements in the same direction had been
earlier and more decided than in any other Southern State.
The occupation of New Orleans by the National forces, and
the advent of General Butler as commander of that Military


Department, on the ist of Ma>, 1862, speedily satisfied a m
very considerable portion of the inhabitants, who had prop-
erty at stake in the city and State, that the rebel authority
could never be restored.

There were, however, even among professed Unionists,
many who devoted their time and energy rather to carp-
ing at the measures which the Government felt itself called
upon to pursue, and to the promotion and adoption of their
individual views, than to cordial co-operation with the Presi-
dent in his efforts to re-establish the forms of civil govern-
ment upon a proper basis. It was in answer to such a
complaint that the President wrote the following letter: —

Washington, D. C, July 28, 1862.
Cuthbert Bullitt, Esq., New Orleans, La. :

Sir: — The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr. Thomas J.
Durant has been shown to me. The writer appears to be an able, a
dispassionate, and an entirely sincere man. The first part of the letter
is devoted to an effort to show that the secession ordinance of Louisi-
ana was adopted against the will of the majority of the people. This
is probably true, and in that fact may be found some instruction.
Why did they allow the ordinance to go into effect? Why did they
not exert themselves? Why stand passive and allow themselves to
be trodden down by a minority? Why did they not hold popular
meetings, and have a convention of their own to express and enforce
the true sentiments of the State? If pre-organization was against
them, then why not do this now that the United States army is pres-
ent to protect them? The paralyzer — the dead palsy — of the Govern-
ment in the whole struggle is, that this class of men will do nothing
for the Government — nothing for themselves, except demanding that
the Government shall not strike its enemies, lest they be struck by

Mr. Durant complains that, in various ways, the relation of master
and slave is disturbed by the presence of our army; and he considers
it particularly vexatious" that this, in part, is done under cover of an
act of Congress, while constitutional guarantees are superseded on
the plea of military necessity. The truth is, that what is done and
omitted about slaves is done and omitted on the same military neces-
sity. It is a military necessity to have men and money; and we
cannot get either, in sufficient number or amounts, if we keep from
or drive from our lines slaves coming to them.

Mr. Durant cannot be ignorant of the pressure in this direction,
nor of my efforts to hold it within bounds, till he, and such as he,
shall have time to help themselves.

I am not posted to speak understanding^ on the public regulations
of which Mr. Durant complains. If experience shows any of # them
to be wrong, let them be set right. I think I can perceive in the
freedom of trade which Mr, Durant urges, that he would relieve both


friends and enemies from the pressure of the blockade. By this he '
**would serve the enemy more effectively than the enemy is able to
serve himself.

1 do not say or believe that to serve the enemy is the purpose of
Mr. Durant, or that he is conscious of any purposes other than na-
tional and patriotic ones. Still, if there were a class of men who,
having no choice of sides in the contest, were anxious only to have
quiet and comfort for themselves while it rages, and to fall in with
the victorious side at the end of it, without loss to themselves, their
advice as to the mode of conducting the contest would be precisely
such as his.

He speaks of no duty, apparently thinks of none, resting upon
Union men. He even thinks it injurious to the Union cause that
they should be restrained in trade and passage, without taking sides.
They are to touch neither a sail nor a pump — like merely passengers
("dead-heads" at that) — to be carried snug and dry throughout the
storm and safely, landed right side up. Nay, more — even a mutineer
is to go untouched, lest these sacred passengers receive an acci-
dental wound.

Of course, the rebellion will never be suppressed in Louisiana, if
the professed Union men there will neither help to do it, nor permit
the Government to do it without their help.

Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what is sug-
gested by Mr. Durant. It does not lie in rounding the rough angles
of the war, but in removing the necessity for the war. The people
of Louisiana, who wish protection to person and property, have but
to reach forth their hands and take it. Let them in good faith rein-
augurate the national authority and set up a State Government con-
forming thereto under the Constitution. They know how to do it,
and can have the protection of the army while doing it. The army
will be withdrawn so soon as such Government can dispense with its
presence, and the people of the State can then, upon the old terms,
govern themselves to their own liking. This is very simple and easy.

If they will not do this, if they prefer to hazard all for the sake of
destroying the Government, it is for them to consider whether it is
probable I will surrender the Government to save them from losing
all. If they decline what I suggest, you will scarcely need to ask
what I will do.

What^ would you do in my position? Would you drop the war
where it is, or would you prosecute it in future with elder-stalk
squirts, charged with rose-water? Would you deal lighter blows rather
than heavier ones? Would you give uo the contest leaving every
available means unapplied?

I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do more than I can, but
I shall do all I can to save the Government, which is my sworn duty
as well as my^ personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice.
What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing.

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.

As time went on, however, the disposition of the citizens
to exert themselves for the re-establishment of former civil
relations increased, and preparations were accordingly made


to hold an election in the fall of that year for members of
the Congress of the United States. General Shepley had
been appointed Military Governor of the State, and to him
the President, in November, addressed the following letter
on that subject: —

Executive Mansion, Washington, November 21, 1862.

Dear Sir: — Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension
that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as
candidates for Congress in that State. In my view there could be
no possible object in such an election. We do not particularly need
members of Congress from those States to enable us to get along
with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence
that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of
Congress and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other
respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them and send them.
To send a parcel of Northern men here as representatives, elected, as
would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point of the
bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous; and were I a mem-
ber of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such man
to a seat. Yours very truly,

A. Lincoln.

Hon. G. F. Shepley.

The election was held, and Messrs. Flanders and Hahn
were chosen and admitted to their seats at the ensuing ses-
sion, as has been already seen.

On the 23d of May, 1863, the various Union associations
of New Orleans applied to the Military Governor of the
State for authority to call a convention of the loyal citi-
zens of Louisiana, for the purpose of framing a new State
Constitution, and of re-establishing civil government under
the Constitution of the United States. What they especially
desired of him was that he should order a registration of
the loyal voters of the State, and appoint commissioners of
registration in each parish to register the names of all
citizens who should take the oath of allegiance to the Con-
stitution of the United States, and repudiate allegiance to
the rebel Confederacy. General Shepley, in reply, recog-
nized fully the great importance of the proposed movement,
but thought it of the utmost consequence that it should
proceed as the spontaneous act of the people of the State,
without the slightest appearance or suspicion of having been
in any degree the result of military dictation. He consented
to provide for the registration of such voters as might volun-


tarily come forward for the purpose" of being enrolled, but
deferred action upon the other points submitted to him
until he could receive definite instructions on the subject
from the Government at Washington.

In June, a committee of planters, recognizing the pro-
priety of some movement for the re-establishment of civil
authority in the State, and not concurring in the policy of
those who proposed to form a new constitution, applied
to the President, asking him to grant a full recognition of
the rights of the State as they existed before the act of
secession, so that they might return to their allegiance un-
der the old Constitution of the State, and that he would
order an election for State officers, to be held on the 1st
Monday of November,

To this application the President made the following
reply : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, June 19, 1863.

Gentlemen : — Since receiving your letter, reliable information has
reached me that a respectable portion of the Louisiana people desire
to amend their State Constitution, and contemplate holding a con-
vention for that object. The fact alone, it seems to me, is sufficient
reason why the General Government should not give the committee
the authority you seek to act under the existing State Constitution.
I may add, that while I do not perceive how such a committee could
facilitate our military operations in Louisiana, I really apprehend it
might be so used as to embarrass them.

As to an election to be held in November, there is abundant time
without any order or proclamation from me just now. The people
of Louisiana shall not lack an opportunity for a fair election for both
Federal and State officers by want of any thing within my power to
give them. Your obedient servant,

A. Lincoln.

After the appearance of the President's proclamation, the
movement towards reconstruction in Louisiana assumed
greater consistency, and was carried forward with greater
steadiness and strength. On the 8th of January a very
large Free State Convention was held at New Orleans, at
which resolutions were adopted indorsing all the acts and
proclamations of the President, and urging the immediate
adoption of measures for the restoration of the State to its
old place in the Union. On the nth, General Banks issued
a proclamation, appointing an election for State officers on
the 226. of February, who were to be installed On the 4th


of March, and another election for delegates to a convention
to revise the Constitution of the State on the first Monday
in April. The old Constitution and laws of Louisiana were
to be observed, except so far as they relate to slavery,
"which," said General Banks, "being inconsistent with the
present condition of public affairs, and plainly inapplicable
to any class of persons within the limits of the State, must
be suspended, and they are now declared inoperative and
void." The oath of allegiance required by the President
in his proclamation, with the condition affixed to the elective
franchise by the Constitution of Louisiana, was prescribed
as constituting the qualifications of voters.

Under this order, parties were organized for the election
of State officers. The friends of the National Government
were divided, and two candidates were put in nomination for
Governor, Hon. Michael Hahn being the regular nominee,
and representing the supporters of the policy of the Presi-
dent, and Hon. B. F. Flanders being put in nomination by
those who desired a more radical policy than the President
had proposed. Both took very decided ground against the
continued existence of slavery within the State. Hon. C.
Roselius was nominated by that portion of the people who
concurred in the wish for the return of Louisiana to the
Union, and were willing to take the oath of allegiance pre-
scribed by the President, but who nevertheless disapproved
of the general policy of the Administration, especially on
the subject of slavery. The election resulted in the election
of Mr. Hahn.

The following letter was written by Mr. Lincoln to con-
gratulate him on his election : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, March 13, 1864.
Hon. Michael Hahn :

My Dear Sin: — I congratulate you on having fixed your name in
history as the first Free-State Governor of Louisiana. Now you are
about to have a convention, which, among other things, will proba-
bly define the elective franchise. I barely suggest, for your private
consideration, whether some of the colored people may not be let
in, as. for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who
"have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in
some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty in the family
of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to
you alone. Truly yours,

A. Lincoln.


Mr. Hahn was inaugurated as Governor on the 4th of
March. On the 15th he was clothed with the powers pre-
viously exercised by General Banks, as military governor,
by the following order from the President : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, March 15, 1864.
His Excellency Michael Hahn, Governor of Louisiana:

Until further orders, you are hereby invested with the powers ex-
ercised hitherto by the military governor of Louisiana.

Yours truly, Abraham Lincoln.

On March 16th, Governor Hahn issued a proclamation,
notifying the electors of the State of the election for dele-
gates to the convention previously ordered by General

The party which elected Governor Hahn succeeded also
in electing a large majority of the delegates to the con-
vention, which met in New Orleans on the 6th of April.
On the nth of May it adopted, by a vote of seventy to six-
teen, a clause of the new Constitution, by which slavery
was forever abolished in the State. The Constitution was
adopted on the 5th of September, by a vote of six thousand
eight hundred and thirty-six to one thousand five hundred
and sixty-six.

Great umbrage was taken at these proceedings by some
of the best friends of the cause, as if there had been an
unauthorized and unjustifiable interference on the part of
the President, so that this Constitution and this State Gov-
ernment, though nominally the work of the people, were in
reality only his. That this was a mistake, the following
letter, written in August, 1863, is sufficient proof: —

Executive Mansion, Washington, August 5, 1863.

My Dear General Banks:

While I very well know what I would be glad for Louisiana to ao,
it is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter.
I would be glad for her to make a new Constitution, recognizing the
Emancipation Proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those
parts of the State to which the proclamation does not apply. And
while she is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to
adopt some practical system by which the two races could gradu-
ally live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both
come out better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks
should be included in the plan. After all, the power or element of


"contract" may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its
simplicity and flexibility may be the better.

As an anti-slavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation
which pro-slavery men do not have; but even they have strong
enough reason to thus place themselves again under the shield of
the Union, and to thus perpetually hedge against the recurrence of
the scenes through which we are now passing.

Governor Shepley has informed me that Mr. Durant is now taking
a registry, with a view to the election of a Constitutional Convention
in Louisiana. This, to me, appears proper. If such a convention
were to ask my views, I could present little else than what I now say
to you. I think the thing should be pushed forward, so that, if possi-
ble, its mature work may reach here by the meeting of Congress.

For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the
Emancipation Proclamation; nor, as Executive, ever return to slavery
any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any
of the acts of Congress.

If Louisiana shall send members to Congress, their admission to
seats will depend, as you know, upon the respective Houses, and not
upon the President. * * * *

Yours very truly,
(Signed) A. Lincoln.

In Arkansas, where a decided Union feeling- had existed
from the outbreak of the rebellion, the appearance of the
proclamation was the signal for a movement to bring the
State back into the Union. On the 20th of January, a
delegation of citizens from that State had an interview with
the President, in which they urged the adoption of certain
measures for the re-establishment of a legal State Govern-
ment, and especially the ordering of an election for Gov-
ernor. In consequence of this application, and in substantial
compliance with their request, the President wrote the fol-
lowing letter to General Steele, who commanded in that
Department : —

Executive Mansion, Washington, January 20, 1864.
Major-General Steele:

Sundry citizens of the State of Arkansas petition me that an elec-
tion may be held in that State, at which to elect a Governor; that
it be assumed at that election, and thenceforward, that the consti-
tution and laws of the State, as before the rebellion, are in full force,
except that the constitution is so modified as to declare that there
shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in the
punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly con-
victed; that the General Assembly may make such provisions for
the freed people as shall recognize and declare their permanent free-
dom, and provide for their education, and ivhich may yet be con-
strued as a temporary arrangement suitable to their, condition as a


laboring, landless, and homeless class; that said election shall be
held on the 28th of March, 1864, at all the usual places of the State,
or all such as voters may attend for that purpose ; that the voters
attending at eight o'clock in the morning of said day may 'choose
judges and clerks of election for such purpose; that all persons quali-
fied by said constitution and laws, and taking the oath presented in
the President's proclamation of December 8, 1863, either before or
at the election, and none others, may be voters; that each set of
judges and clerks may make returns directly to you on or before

the — th day of next; that in all other respects said election !

may be conducted according to said constitution and laws ; that on
receipt of said returns, when five thousand four hundred and six
votes shall have been cast, you can receive said votes, and ascertain
all who shall thereby appear to have been elected; that on the — th

day of next, all persons so appearing to have been elected, j

who shall appear before you at Little Rock, and take the oath, to be
by you severally administered, to support the Constitution of the
United States and said modified Constitution of the State of Arkan- ■
sas, may be declared by you qualified and empowered to enter imme-
diately upon the duties of the offices to which they shall have been
respectively elected.

You will please order an election to take place on the 28th of
March, 1864, and returns to be made in fifteen days thereafter.

A. Lincoln.

Upon the return of the delegation to Arkansas, they
issued an address to the people of the State, urging them
to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded for
restoring their State to its old prosperity, and assuring
them, from personal observation, that the people of the
Northern States would most cordially welcome their return
to the Union. Meantime, a convention had assembled at
Little Rock, composed of delegates elected without any
formality, and not under the authority of the General Gov-
ernment, and proceeded to form a new State Constitution,
and to fix a day for an election.

Upon being informed of this, the President seems to
have sent orders to General Steele to help on this movement,
and he telegraphed to the Provisional Government as
follows : — s

Washington, February 6, 1864.

J. Murphy:

My order to General Steele, about an election, was made in ignor-
ance of the action your convention had taken or would take. A sub-
sequent letter directs General Steele to aid you on your own plan,
and not to thwart or hinder you. Show this to him.

A. Lincoln.


He also wrote the following letter to one of the most
prominent citizens : —

To William Fishback:

When I fixed a plan for an election in Arkansas, I did it in
ignorance that your convention was at the same work. Since I
learned the latter fact, I have been constantly trying to yield my
plan to theirs. I have sent two letters to General Steele, and three
or four dispatches to you and others, saying that he (General Steele)
must be master, but that it will probably be best for him to keep the
convention on its own plan. Some single mind must be master, else
there will be no agreement on anything; and General Steele, com-
manding the military and being on the ground, is the best man to be
that master. Even now citizens are telegraphing me to postpone the
election to a later day than either fixed by the convention or me.
This discord must be silenced. A. Lincoln.

The dispatches to General Steele reached him both to-
gether, and only a few days before the day fixed by the
convention for the election. All that he did, therefore, was
to issue a proclamation calling on the people to come out
and vote at the ensuing election.

The convention framed a constitution abolishing slavery,
which was subsequently adopted by a large majority of the

It also provided for the election of State officers on the
day appointed for the vote upon the constitution ; and the
legislature chosen at that election elected two gentlemen,
Messrs. Fishback and Baxter, as United States Senators,
and also Representatives. These gentlemen presented their
credentials at Washington, whereupon Mr. Sumner offered
the following resolution in the Senate : —

Resolved, That a State pretending to secede from the Union, and
battling against the General Government to maintain that position,
must be regarded as a rebel State, subject to military occupation, and
without representation on this floor, until it has been readmitted by a
vote of both Houses of Congress; and the Senate will decline to
entertain any application from any such rebel State until after such a
vote of both Houses.

The whole matter was referred to the Judiciary Com-
mittee, who, without adopting the views of Mr. Sumner's
resolution, reported on the 27th of June that on the facts it
did not appear that the rebellion was so far suppressed in
Arkansas as to entitle the State to representation in Con-


gress, and that therefore Messrs. Fishback and Baxter were
not entitled to seats as Senators from the State of Arkansas.
And the Senate on the next day adopted their report by a
vote of twenty-seven to six.

In the House," meanwhile, the Committee on Elections, to
whom the application of the Arkansas members had been
referred, reported to postpone their admission until a com-
mission could be sent to inquire into and report the facts
of the election, and to create a commission for the exam-

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 41)