Document: Abraham Lincoln, Order Concerning James Harrison, December 23, 1864 [Draft and Copies in Secretarial Hands]1
1 James Harrison proposed to travel behind Confederate lines on the Red River to bring out as much as 10,000 bales of cotton. These documents, all of which seem to be the president’s copies, relate to his involvement in Harrison’s venture, which required not only a pass to go behind military lines but also authorization to use government facilities. While the order authorizing Harrison’s transaction and Harrison’s acknowledgment were both drafted in a secretarial hand, Lincoln’s close personal attention is manifest in his corrections and interlineations. For more on this topic, see Edward Bates to Lincoln, December 12, 1864; Samuel T. Glover et al. to William P. Fessenden, December 15, 1864; Harrison to Lincoln, December 17, 1864; David L. Phillips and Harrison to Lincoln, December 18, 1864; and Lincoln, Pass for James Harrison, December 22, 1864.
8 Following is a corrected copy of Lincoln’s order above.
Washington Dec 23 1864.
All Military and Naval Commanders will please give to James Harrison Esq of St Louis, Missouri, (with any number of steamboats not exceeding three, taking in tow any number of barges, scows, flats and the like, not having steam power, which they may be able to take, with such goods and money as the Treasury Agents may grant permits for, under the rules of the Department, and none others and only with crews to navigate the whole, and necessary provisions for himself and said crews) protection and safe conduct from New Orleans or Memphis, to Red River and up said river and its tributaries, till he shall pass beyond our Military lines, and also give him such protection and safe conduct on his return to our lines, back to New Orleans or Memphis with any cargoes he may bring; and on his safe return from beyond our lines, with said boats and tows, allow him to repeat once or twice if he shall desire
9 Following is a corrected copy of Harrison’s endorsement of Lincoln’s order above.
Washington D C December 23 64
In consideration that the President of the United States to-day delivers to me a paper of which the within is a copy, I pledge him my word of honor that whatever I may do thereunder shall be at my own expense and risk of person and property, with no claim upon him or upon the government in any contingency whatever; that I will take absolutely nothing into the insurgent lines which could be of any value to them, except the boats, tows, goods money and provisions as stated; and that I will not take said boats, tows, and other matters stated, or any of them, into said insurgent lines unless I shall first have the personal pledge of Gen. Kirby Smith or the Officer in chief command, given directly by him to me, that said boats and tows shall, without condition, safely return to our Military lines
Allow Mr. Jas. Harrison, of St Louis Mo at such point as he may choose, to pass our Military lines, and once return at his pleasure
(Signed) A Lincoln
Copy for Senator Trumbull of Permit from Mr. Lincoln to Mr. Harrison
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
Document: Jacob R. Freese to Abraham Lincoln, December 23, 18641
1 Freese had become acquainted with Lincoln while he was practicing medicine at Bloomington, Illinois. Freese moved to New Jersey prior to the outbreak of the Civil War and became editor of a newspaper. Lincoln made several efforts to appoint his old friend to an office and eventually succeeded in September 1864 when Freese received the position of enrollment commissioner for the 2nd District of New Jersey. See Lincoln to John C. Ten Eyck, September 19, 1864, and Collected Works, VII, 11, 203.
Trenton, N. J., Dec 23 1864
My dear Sir:
Permit me to congratulate you on the honor confered upon you by our Board of Trustees on Tuesday last, Viz -- that of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws.2
2 The Board of Trustees for the College of New Jersey (today known as Princeton University) had recently voted to confer an honorary degree upon Lincoln. See John MacLean to Lincoln, December 20, 1864.
You have “doctored” so many old laws to make them better, and have had passed so many good ones that it was only a proper appreciation of your labors to have made you an L L. D.
The best wish I can make is that the future will equal the past, and that you may continue to give leaden pills to the Rebels and political ipecac to their sympathizers of the North until our land shall have been completely purged of treason.
Your old Friend
& Obt. Svt
J. R. Freese
Our “Amsterdam Dutchmen” got home safely and were delighted with their visit -- especially with their call upon you.
Document: Hanson A. Risley to John G. Nicolay, December 23, 18641
1 Risley was a special agent of the Treasury Department in charge of supervising the purchase of products from insurrectionary states.
Dec 23. 64
I inclose two Certificates for 2500 bales cotton each for our freind Green Clay Smith-- He wants two instead of one, as part comes out at N. O. & part at Memphis.
They are just like the cases in which the President made orders, (Geo. W. Gage & others) just like the ones I send; and such as I suppose the President expects to give Smith.
If so will you please obtain his Signature and return the Orders by the bearer
H A Risley d3949000
Document: William H. Seward to George H. Yeaman, December 23, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln in Frederick Seward’s Hand]1
1 Charles S. Todd had written to Francis P. Blair, Sr., on November 29, 1864 (q. v.), expressing his desire for a more lucrative civil or military position than his current one as assessor of internal revenue at Owensboro, Kentucky.
1 Williamson was a clerk in the Second Auditor’s Office of the Treasury Department. He enclosed a full newspaper account of a recent speech by Richard Cobden at Rochdale, England. Lincoln greatly appreciated the fact that Cobden favored the Union cause in the Civil War.
Decr 23. 1864
As a companion to the interesting Editorials from a Scotch Newspaper which I transmitted to you y’day, I beg to Enclose Mr R. Cobden’s speech in extenso..
Document: James E. Yeatman to Abraham Lincoln, December 23, 1864
St Louis Decr 23rd 1864
I have received a letter from a gentleman with whom I am well acquainted -- stating that “the President had granted to three several parties a permit to bring from the Confederate States a large number of bales of Cotton” and suggesting that I should apply to you for a similar permit which I respectfully declined doing, as I felt that in doing so, that I would justly cause my disinterestedness to be doubted -- and if in the kindness of your heart you should grant it, you would be doing a wrong to yourself as well as the goverment, as it would subject you to the charge of partiality and favoritism -- when all should share alike under the general rules and regulations made for governing trade. The patriotism of every man should be doubted, who thinks that special favors should be granted on account of services rendered. I write to let you know what my friend has written on account of the deep and kindly interest I feel in you as the head of the nation, and our great leader in the present struggle -- and to arm and guard you against such applications as those, making them, care but little what injury they may inflict on you, on the country so they secure their own personal aggrandizement
I remain with
Your very Obdt Svt.
James E Yeatman
Document: George D. Blakey to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 Blakey was a Kentucky Unionist whom Lincoln appointed a collector of internal revenue in 1862. Patrice De Janon, in whose behalf Blakey writes, was restored to his position at West Point in 1865 and he retired in 1882.
Since then however I have given the whole subject careful attention, and the more I look at the garbled but ingeniously worded statements of Genl Delafield the more outrageous & offensive they become. That document when well considered loses its force as against Mr de Janon at whom it was aimed and at once becomes a terrible weapon against Genrl Delafield himself. It plainly shows that he in order to conjure up and fabricate an assault upon a diligent faithful & unoffending Professor of the Military Academy was engaged in the unbecoming & disreputable work of pimping for gossip among the pupils of Mr de Janon and especially among those who had been sent before him as superintendent for reprimand. This is clearly shown in the case of Cadet Rodgers who seems to be the source of the General’s boldest assault upon Mr de Janon
2 Patrice De Janon was a professor of Spanish at West Point who had been dismissed in 1863. Blakey’s niece was married to the professor. See Blakey to Lincoln, June 25, 1864.
3 General Richard Delafield was Chief of Engineers for the U. S. Army. He had previously served as the superintendent at West Point (1838-45, 1856-61).
All these statements received by Genl Delafield some four or five or seven years ago, and at a time when it was his official duty to take notice of them by arraigning the Professor for a dereliction of duty, he shows that he took no notice of them either for the purpose of enquiry or correction. But now when asked for a reason of record for the dismissal of Mr de Janon he serves up in a long-winded report these ill gotten gleanings The truth of it is there is something obviously very wrong in the whole tenor of General Delafields report, and when compared to the abundant proofs and bright array of testimonials from the very best of sources many of its statements appear culpably false. There is something in this case requiring the most positive order of correction at the hands of the President and I shall not only be much surprised as a citizen not to see it followed by the restoration of Professor de Janon, but still further by the arraigning & dismissal of Genl. Delafield. If malicious falsifying be a just cause of exclusion from high civil or military position I cannot see by what rule of construction Genl Delafield can escape the verdict in the estimation of every right minded man who takes the pains to read the facts in the case.
But I claim that Mr de Janon not withstanding the remoteness of the time at which the necessity is laid upon him to do so, completely vindicates himself and should be restored.
I can but look with deep solicitude at the course to be pursued in this case, having an abiding confidence that justice will be done and that the workers of iniquity will be held up to public scorn and condemnation, and that your Excellency will stamp upon this infamous procedure the indelible stigma of public abhorance
If such tricks as Genrl Delafield and two or three other co-operators at West Point have played in this case shall succeed I shall conclude that it is high time that the academy was dispensed with, as being a place to nourish knaves and conceited upstarts, rather than an Institution conducted by gentlemen worthy of the titles they bear with rank in the military service of the Country
I can but feel grieved & humiliated at what has occurred feeling assured tho’ that “in the future as in the past” you will be sufficient for the occasion.
I have the honor to be very
Respectfully yours &c
Geo. D. Blakey
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
Document: P. A. Bortell to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 1864
Unobtrusivley, with a heart full of the purest motives, prompted by kindest intentions, permit a right loyal soldier to present you the picture of the good old Dea. John Phillips.1
I inclose the letter, (which is of no consequence,) except to substantiate former statements in regard to the case2
2 See Mrs. S. T. Blair to Mrs. P. A. Bortell, December 21, 1864.
Your Obedient Servant
P. A. Bortell
Washington D. C
Document: Aaron H. Cragin to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 18641
1 Cragin, a New Hampshire lawyer and Republican politician, served in the U. S. House (1855-59) and was a member of the U. S. Senate (1865-77).
Lebanon N. H. Dec. 24, 1864.
I am much surprised that any person from New Hampshire should attempt to prejudice your mind against Hon. Amos Tuck, and to lessen your esteem for him. I have been intimately acquainted with Mr Tuck for years, and have the highest respect for him personally, and the utmost confidence in his fidelity and political integrity. Since we met in the Chicago Convention, in 1860, when we united with the other delegates from this State, in giving our votes for you, I have frequently had occasion to meet and converse with Mr. Tuck, as an officer of the Treasury Department, and I have uniformly found him an ardent admirer of you personally, and a warm advocate and defender of your policy. Indeed, I have considered him your devoted personal friend, and an advocate for your re nomination. He has repeated and emphatically conveyed this impression this impression to my mind. In this we cordially agreed. He has been recognized in New Hampshire, as the warm personal and political friend of the President.
I was a delegate to our last State Convention, and was Chairman of the Committee on Resolutions, & I can truly say, so far as my knowledge extends, that there was not a single man in that Convention, who was not heartily in favor of your re-nomination. I am told that it is represented that Mr Tuck plotted against you on that occasion. I believe this to be untrue -- for only a few days before he told me you would be re-nominated, and ought to be re-nominated.
The claim of a few men that they procured your re-nomination, in our State Convention, in Jany. last, and that others were opposed to it, is simply absurd and rediculous. The resolution was introduced by Mr. Chandler, and was caught up by the whole Convention with wild enthusiasm. I have no wish to disparage the claims, or efforts of any of our friends, but you have learned before today that men act from various motives. I am sorry to say that personal and selfish motives sometimes influence men to seek the over throw of good men, because they are supposed to be in their way.
Mr. Tuck is regarded by the people of this State as a man of sound judgement -- of undoubted integrity -- of excellent moral character, and a firm and able supporter of the Administration. I believe he would scorn to do a mean thing, and that he is not wanting in gratitude and esteem for those who have confided in him.2
On my return home I told my friends our favorite Wm H. Seward must be given up, & go in for A. Lincol if we wished to succeede.
Suffice it to say the position I took precluded me from all the Conventions which had its object the nomination of President
The same influence extended so far as to deprive me of the position I desired. I cheerfully submited and with a determination to stand by the Administration. I can here add I attended all the Convention’s I wished in 1864.
With the advice of friends of high standing I have been induced to see you, and learn your views in relation to giving me an appointment if an opportunity offers, which I most cheerfully submit to your consideration
I trust God will kindly guide you through all the trials he has designed you to pass through, Your trust in him will be your strength.
Your Affectionate Freind
James R. Webster.
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
James R. Webster -- for Something.
Document: Gideon Welles to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 See William E. Chandler to Welles, December 22, 1864, which details the defrauding of the Navy Department at the Philadelphia Navy Yard by C. W. Scofield, a contractor there.
24 December, 1864.
I respectfully submit the enclosed report from William E. Chandler, Esqr, attorney for this Department in prosecuting investigations at Philadelphia in behalf of this Department, disclosing some of the transactions of C. W. Scofield, a person now imprisoned in Fort Lafayette for illegal practices.
Secretary of the Navy.
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
Chandler’s Report on Naval matters at Philadelphia
Document: Augustus H. Chapman to Abraham Lincoln, December 25, 1864
2 In an effort to isolate General Sherman after his capture of Atlanta and to force him to abandon that city, Confederate General John Bell Hood invaded Tennessee in mid-November, 1864. General George H. Thomas repelled Hood’s attack at Franklin, Tennessee on November 30, 1864, and routed Hood’s troops at Nashville on December 15-16, inflicting the worst defeat on an army in the entire Civil War.
Please make very grateful acknowledgments to your whole army -- officers and men.
1 In 1863, Lincoln appointed Perry Brocchus of Maryland an associate justice of the supreme court for the New Mexico Territory. In August 1864 Lincoln removed Brocchus from office. d3955800
Document: Richard T. Jacob to Abraham Lincoln, December 26, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 Jacob was a Kentucky Unionist who organized the 9th Kentucky Cavalry and served as the regiment’s colonel. In 1863 he was elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky and became an outspoken critic of the Lincoln Administration because of his opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation. Jacob adamantly opposed the enlistment of black soldiers and in 1864 he actively campaigned for George B. McClellan. The following letter details his November 1864 arrest by the military authorities and subsequent banishment to the Confederacy.
1 The 23rd Missouri General Assembly convened on December 26, 1864.
The undersigned, members of the 23rd General Assembly of the State of Missouri would respectfully represent to his Excellency the President of the United States, that we are still in our State, trembling on the Surface, that there is underlying that Surface a very large Substrata of disloyal and treasonable Sentiment, that on the first favorable occasion may break out and threaten all loyal men, very seriously-- We are deeply thankful to the Federal Government for the assistance it has rendered us, and are fully impressed with the terrible fact that to that assistance every truly loyal man in the State of Missouri, owes his life -- the possession of his property -- and the Constitutional liberty we now enjoy--
Our State has been so seriously injured by the civil war that has raged within our boundaries -- that we would represent to your Excellency, the utter ruin that would accrue to us if forced to make another struggle for our existence with the domestic traitors and their abettors in our mids’t-- We would therefore urge upon your Excellency great Caution in rescinding or modifying in any way orders that have injurious & coercive influences only upon our enemies and the enemies of our common country-- At the present time in many parts of our State the Civil law is to a large extent powerless--
Grand Jury’s cannot be empannelled who will indict men who have been guilty of taking horses & guns from Union men to equip themselves for the Rebel Army -- it is still in some parts safer for a man to be disloyal than to be a thorough unconditional Union man.
The inhabitants asked of me, leave to hold a meeting to take into consideration their relations to the State Government of Virginia-- I replied that I would not order such a meeting, but that if the people chose to assemble in an orderly manner to petition for a redress of supposed grievances, or to consider any question of civil order, I could see no Military objection to their doing so, I should not issue any order against it, but would permit it--
I have heard nothing on the subject since, and do not know even when the meeting is to be
Shall I issue an order to prevent their assembling to vote on civil affairs?2
2 Lincoln informed Butler that he had seen an order calling for an election on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Lincoln added: “If the people on their own motion wish to hold a peaceful meeting I suppose you need not hinder them.” See Collected Works, VIII, 186.
Benj F Butler
Document: James H. Lane to John P. Usher, December 27, 1864
Document: Green Clay Smith to Abraham Lincoln, December 27, 1864
The following Telegram received at Washington, 930 P M. Dec 27 1864.
From Cincinnati Dec 27 1864.
If the present Liquor bill is signed all distilleries here must close. This will lose in revenue per month one million six hundred & sixty five thousand dollars ($1,665,000) It is hoped you will not approve and let Congress more maturely consider the question of taxing liquor. The whole country will be effected alike with this I hope you will not sign it Let me know the result1
2 General Sherman had telegraphed Lincoln on December 22 and offered the city of Savannah, Georgia as a Christmas present. See William T. Sherman to Lincoln, December 22, 1864 and Lincoln to Sherman, December 26, 1864.
J Gregory Smith
Document: J. Bates Dickson to Abraham Lincoln, December 28, 18641
1 The following was sent in response to Lincoln’s December 27 telegram inquiring about the particulars of the arrest of Lieutenant Governor Richard T. Jacob. See Collected Works, VIII, 182.
The following Telegram received at Washington, 5 P M. Dec 28 1864.
2 Richard T. Jacob was a Kentucky Unionist who organized the 9th Kentucky Cavalry and served as the regiment’s colonel. In 1863 he was elected lieutenant governor of Kentucky and became an outspoken critic of the Lincoln Administration because of his opposition to the Emancipation Proclamation. Jacob adamantly opposed the enlistment of black soldiers and in 1864 he actively campaigned for George B. McClellan.
3 Robert J. Breckinridge
4 General Stephen G. Burbridge was commander of the District of Kentucky.
5 For more on Jacob’s case, see Jacob to Lincoln, December 26, 1864 and Lincoln to Jacob, January 18, 1865.
J. Bates Dickson
Capt A A G
Document: John D. Hardy to Abraham Lincoln, December 28, 1864
1 In December 1864 Lincoln appointed Salmon P. Chase to replace the deceased Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice of the United States.
2 Samuel Nelson was appointed to the U. S. Supreme Court by President John Tyler in 1845.
3 Judd’s October 5, 1864 letter to Lincoln is in this collection.
4 George Perkins Marsh
5 Frank Judd’s parents had good reason to worry about him. Young Judd had recently deserted from the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry and joined a Connecticut unit under an assumed name. The authorities eventually caught up with him and Lincoln intervened in order to prevent his execution for desertion. See Collected Works, VIII, 189, 224.
If you can find time to answer this you will confer a great favor upon one who could always subscribe himself
N. B. Judd
Document: Gustave P. Koerner to Abraham Lincoln, December 28, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1
1 No reply to this letter from Lincoln has been found. Koerner returned to the United States early in 1865.
Belleville. Dec. 28. 1864.
Dear Mr. President.
I have to day sent to Mr. Seward a tender of my resignation as Minister to Spain.
You know very well that I have not taken this step from any the slightest dissatisfaction with the office itself, for both my relations with you and the department, and those with the Government of Spain have been during my mission of the most pleasing character.
The only reason for my withdrawal as you well know is the inability on account of my limited pecuniary means to represent our Country socially in such a manner as seems to be indespensably necessary that it should be at such a place as Madrid.
Possibly you may find it opportune to avail yourself of my services in some other position either at home or abroad not so liable to the objection just mentioned. But whatever may happen I shall always gratefully remember the uniform kindness and consideration which you have shown me ever since you have filled your high and responsible office.
Mr. Edward W. Gittmann I am informed, has been recommended from the Division Commissaries and Chief Commissary of the Department of Arks and 7th army Corps for appointment as Comsy of Subsistence of Vol’s with the rank of Captain.
I know the young gentlemen from his earliest youth and there is no one within the range of all my friends and acquaintances whom on account of talents and character I could more warmly recommend than him. He was amongst the very firsts who shouldered their muskets in defence of the Union in St Louis and he has remained ever since in one capacity or the other connected with the army.-- The recommendations however which he has from the officer of the Commissary department, coming from so competent a source, will have much more weight than any thing I might in favor of his appointment
With my best wishes for your health and success (which is of late so gloriously apparent) I remain
Sincerely Your friend &
[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]
Hon. G. Koerner.
Document: John F. Miller to Abraham Lincoln, December 28, 18641
1 General Miller was the commanding officer at Nashville, Tennessee.
The following Telegram received at Washington, 5 P M. Dec 28 1864.
From Nashville Dec 28 1864.
Your dispatch granting respite to James R Mallory for six (6) weeks from thirtieth (30) received2
2 For Lincoln’s telegram suspending Mallory’s execution, see Collected Works, VIII, 188.
John F. Miller
Document: Fergus Peniston to Abraham Lincoln December 28, 1864
I beg leave respectfully to represent that I am the owner of a large amount of cotton located in Western Louisiana & Southern Mississippi acquired long since in payment of debts & by purchase, as I can show by the proper documents, and as a citizen of the United States loyal to the Govt, I ask, that I be allowed the privilege of bringing my property under my control and disposing of it in such manner as shall be most advantageous to me, after payment of the Internal Rev and other taxes fixed by law.
I respectfully request that I be exempted from the 25% tax, inasmuch as this cotton was and has been my property long before the passage of the act that imposed that tax and circumstances beyond my Control have until this time prevented me from bringing it to market.
This cotton is the produce of very many plantations & in order to prevent my meeting with opposition from the people and to secure their friendly co-operation, I ask that I be allowed to take outside the lines of military occupation, plantation supplies to the extent of 33% of the value of the Cotton brought in by me.
The tide of trade; now flows from Western La, through to Texas, into Mexico and immense amount of supplies of every description and munitions of war are obtained in exchange of Cotton. Allow me Mr President to ask, if it would not be good policy to induce that cotton to go to New Orleans?
Should you Mr President, see fit to grant my request, I respectfully suggest, that I be provided by you, with a document stating your intentions and granting me permission to proceed with one or more small steamboats & barges, beyond the lines of Military Occupation, with the above stated amount of plantation supplies, up Red River and its tributaries, up Pearl River and Pascagoula River, land at or near Mouths of Pearl & Pascagoula Rivers and on the banks of the Missi between Port Hudson & Natchez and continue said voyages until the stated amount of Cotton shall have been brought to New Orleans, and without interference from any Military, Naval or civil officer of the U S. Govt.
I leave the matter in your Excellency’s hands, satisfied that your wisdom and practical sagacity will find means to enable a citizen of the United States to get possession of his property liable every day to destruction or seizure for the purpose of sending it to Mexico.1
Document: Abraham Lincoln to James Speed, December 29, 1864 [Draft]1
1 In January of 1864, H. D. Stover had been convicted by court martial of defrauding the Navy Department while a contractor at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Stover was called as a witness in December in a trial of Thurlow Weed for libeling George Opdyke. During that trial Opdyke’s counsel obtained permission for Navy Secretary Gideon Welles to be interrogated and to furnish records concerning Stover’s court martial and conviction. Welles was disposed to comply, but Lincoln was swayed by the objections of Secretary of State Seward (Weed’s particular friend), who denied that the public papers of any Federal department were subject to the demand of any state court or any court in a private suit. Lincoln thus determined to seek a legal opinion from Attorney General Speed. See Howard K. Beale, ed., The Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1960) I, 514-15, II, 208, 211-13, and for Speed’s response, Speed to Lincoln, January 3, 1865.
Washington, Dec. 29, 1864.
Hon. Attorney General
Please give me your opinion in writing whether the Secretary of the Navy, or any of his subordinates, is bound in law, on application of