Document: Abraham Lincoln, Order Concerning James Harrison, December 23, 1864 [Draft and Copies in Secretarial Hands]

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Abraham Lincoln Papers


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.

Executive Mansion.

Washington, December 23, 1864.

All Military and Naval Commanders will please give to James Harrison, Esq. of St. Louis, Missouri, (with any number of inferior Steam-Boats 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 so take, without such goods &2 money, and without cargoes outgoing, as the Treasury agents may grant permits for under the rules of the Dept. and none others3 and only with crews to navigate the whole, and necessary provisions for himself and said crews,) protection and safe conduct from Cairo New-Orleans or Memphis4 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 Cairo New-Orleans or Memphis5, 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.

2 The preceding three words are interlineated by Lincoln.

3 The preceding 17 words are interlineated by Lincoln.

4 The preceding three words are interlineated by Lincoln.

5 The preceding three words are interlineated by Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln6

6 Signed by Lincoln.

[Endorsement by James Harrison in Secretarial Hand:]

Washington, D. C. December 23, 1864.

In consideration that the President of the United States today 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 value to them, except the boats, tows, goods money and provisions as stated; and that I will not take said boats, tows, and provisions other matters stated,7 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.

7 The preceding three words are interlineated by Lincoln.

Jas Harrison


8 Following is a corrected copy of Lincoln’s order above.

Executive Mansion

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

(Signed) Abraham Lincoln


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

(signed) Jas Harrison


10 Following is a copy of Abraham Lincoln, Pass for James Harrison, December 22, 1864, in a secretarial hand.

Executive Mansion.

Washington Dec 22 1864

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:]

James Harrison


Cotton Order

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

Dear Sir,

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

Your Truly

H A Risley

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.

Copy from

F. W. S.2

2 Copies of correspondence between Lincoln and Seward were provided by Seward’s son and secretary, Frederick W. Seward.

Department of State

Washington 23d Dec. 1864.


I have had the honor to receive and have commended to the
consideration of the President, your note of the 21st instant and the accompanying letter addressed to me by C. S. Todd. Esq.3

3 Neither of the letters mentioned are in this collection.

I have the honor to be,

your obt Servt

William H. Seward.

[Endorsed by Lincoln in Frederick Seward’s Hand:]

Gen C. S. Todd, once much of a man, is now superannuated and would be an incumbrance upon the Commander in New Orleans unjustifiable in me to impose upon him.

A. Lincoln

Dec. 24. 1864.


Document: Alexander Williamson to Abraham Lincoln, December 23, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1

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.

Treasury Dept

Second Auditors

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..

Your very Respy

Alex. Williamson

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Mr. Cobdens speech


Document: James E. Yeatman to Abraham Lincoln, December 23, 1864


St Louis Decr 23rd 1864

Dear Sir

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

Great Respect

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.

Bowling Green, Decr 24th 1864

Dear Sir A short time since I did myself the honor to address you a communication in behalf of a relative P de Janon late Professor of Spanish at West Point.2 At that time I had but superficially read all the papers & testimonials in the case, including of course the report of General Delafield3 made to you under date of 16th July last

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

1 Deacon John Phillips was a 105 year-old resident of Massachusetts who had voted for Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election. When Lincoln learned the story of his oldest known supporter, he wrote Phillips a letter of appreciation. See F. W. Emmons to Lincoln, November 9, 1864; Lincoln to John Phillips, November 21, 1864; and John Phillips to Lincoln, January 16, 1865.

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

Dec 24th/64

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

2 For more on the charges against Amos Tuck, see Joseph A. Gilmore to Lincoln, December 30, 1864.

Respectfully Yours

Aaron H. Cragin

Document: John P. Usher to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 1864

Washington D. C. Decr 24th 1864


I have examined the papers submitted by Hon. W. B. Allison,
1 of Iowa, in reference to the designation of a company to construct the Sioux City branch of the Pacific Railroad, and respectfully recommend that you designate the “Sioux City and Pacific Railroad Company,” in pursuance of the 17th Section of the act of Congress, approved July 2nd 1864.

1 William B. Allison was a Republican member of the U. S. House (1863-71) from Iowa who went on to have a distinguished career as a member of the U. S. Senate (1873-1908).

The form of an order for your signature is accordingly enclosed,2

2 For more on Allison and the Sioux City branch of the Pacific Railroad, see William T. Otto to Lincoln, September 14, 1864.

I have the honor to be,

Very Respectfully,

Your obt Sevt

J. P. Usher



Document: James R. Webster to Abraham Lincoln, December 24, 1864 [With Endorsement by Lincoln]1

1 Whether Lincoln responded to Webster with a letter or an appointment is unrecorded.

Waterloo N. Y. Dec 24” 1864

My Dear Sir

Years have passed rappidly away and great changes have taken place since my introduction to you by my esteemed frend James Cunningham2 at Mattoon while on business in Ill.

2 Cunningham was a resident of Coles County, Illinois who had served with Lincoln in the Illinois General Assembly.

I became quite interested in your election for senator. I was appointed an honorary deligate, and went to the Convention that met in Springfield, that nominated you for Senator.

I heard frequent discussions with your honor & Mr Douglas.3

3 Stephen A. Douglas

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.

Navy Department,

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.

Very respectfully,

Gideon Welles

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

Hd Quars 54th Regt Ills Vet Vol Infy

Hickory Station Ark

Dec 25th 1864

Sir. I will esteem it a very great personal favor If you will have Maj A D Vincent comisary of Muster for this the 7th A C instructed to have me mustered out of the U S Service with the non veterans of the Regt on the 17th day of Feb next. I deem it a duty I owe my family to quit the service at that time. My Wifes health is very feeble, my Boys are getting entirely too large for her to manage and need my care for a time very much. Mother Hanks
1 health is such that she cannot possibly live but a short time and I feel that I aught to by all means be at home with my family by Spring. I have talked to my Brig and Div Comdrs about resighing but they wont consent to it. They Admit that the Regt is a small one that we have a good Col and Maj but wont consent for me to resighn. I know were I to do so that my resignation would be disaproved at Brig & Div Hd Quars and of course by Genl Canby.2 I was appointed Maj of this Regt Oct 10th 1861. I at once went to work and raised 6 Cos for the Regt since which time I have only had one leave of abscence and that only for 15 days, have never been off of Duty at any time since the Organization of the Regt, have never been absent withot at leave, never sick but have been on active duty evry day for 3 years & one Month with the exception of the above mentioned 15 days even when the Regt went to Ills on vet Furlough I was continued on duty. Last winter while the Colonel & Maj of the Regt were absent in Ills I went to work & reinlisted over 4/5th of my Regt as Veterans. Last August when the Rebell Genl Shelby3 Made his Raid on the Memphis and Little Rock Rail Road our Regt were a doing guard duty on that Road. That portion of the of the Regt with my self fought Shelby over two hours finally repulsing over 14 times our own Nos. Near one Half of the Regt with the Col were captured after a gallant fight of over 4 Hours duration. The day following I volunteered to take my comd & repair said road and put a Train through. All said it was Madness for Me to attempt it but I done it successfully and the Next day with my Command I repaired the Telegraph line and put it in working order and I now feel that it is doing me great injustice after I have served as long and as faithfull as I have to refuse to muster me out with the non vets of the Regt because it has not been three years since I & the Col were promoted & to disaprove my resignation because I have done I am as thy say so faithfull in the performance of all of my duties and always on hand when my services are needed. I promised Harriet over one Year since that if she would consent for Me to remain in the service untill the time of the Non Veterans expired that I would then go home and I now when her health is so feeble and she is in so much trouble on act of her Mother & my Boys need my care so much I feel that I aught to go home to her for a time at least untill I can arainge matter so I can be better spared from there. Our Col and that portion of the Regt that were captured by Shelby have been exchanged and will rejoin us in a few days. The Regt can be reorganized and put in fine condition for the feilds by the time the Non Vets of the Regt are mustered out of the service the 17th of Feb next & I can be well spared from the Regt. If you will cause Maj Vincent to have me mustered out of the service at that time if I request it to be done I promise you on my past that if any thing transpires by that time by which it cannot be done without injury to the Regt or Service that I will not request it. Trusting that my wishes will meet your approbation & my request a favorable response I am

1 Elizabeth Johnston Hanks was Lincoln’s stepsister and Chapman’s mother-in-law. Chapman was not yet aware that she had died on December 18. See Harriet Chapman to Lincoln, January 17, 1865.

2 General Edward R. S. Canby was commander of the Military Division of West Mississippi.

3 General Joseph O. “Jo” Shelby commanded a Confederate cavalry brigade.

Very Respectfully

Your Obt Servt

A. H. Chapman

Lt Col

54th Ills Infty

Enclosed I send a testimony in my favor which was given my by my late Div Commander Genl Andrews.
4 It was unasked for & unexpected on my part. I enclose it that you may see the estimation in which I am held by those under whom I served. I have may others of a similar kind5

4 Christopher C. Andrews

5 Lincoln wrote a reply to Chapman but the letter has not been located. See Chapman to Lincoln, March 25, 1865.

A H Cn

Document: John G. Foster to Ulysses S. Grant and Henry W. Halleck, December 22, 1864

Dec. 25. 1864

Stmr Golden Gate

Savannah River 7 P m Dec 22

I have the honor to report that I have just returned from Genl Sherman’s Hd Qrs in Savannah.

I send Maj. Gray of my staff as bearer of dispatches from Gen. Sherman to you & also a message to the President.1 The City of Savannah was occupied on the morning of the 21st

1 See William T.
Sherman to Lincoln, December 22, 1864.

Gen. Hardie2 anticipating the contemplated assault -- escaped with the main body of his Infantry & light artillery on the afternoon & night of the 20th by crossing the river to the Union causeway opposite the City. The rebel ironclads were blown up & the navy yard burned. All the rest of the City is intact & contains 20.000 citizens quiet & well disposed.

2 General William J. Hardee was commander of the Confederate Department of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.

The captures include 800 prisoners, 150 Guns, 13 Locomotives in good order, 190 cars, a large supply of ammunition & materials of war, 3 Steamers, & 33,000 bales of cotton safely stored in warehouses

All these valuable fruits of an almost bloodless victory have been like Atlanta fairly won.

I opened communication with the City with my Steamers today taking up what torpedoes we could see & passing safely over others. Arrangements are made to clear the channel of all obstructions. Yours &c

J. G. Foster Maj Gen

Document: William T. Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, December 22, 1864

Dec 25--

Dec. 25, 1864.

Savannah Ga Dec 22. 1864

Via Ft. Monroe Va Dec 25.

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the City of Savannah with 150 heavy guns & plenty of ammunition & also about 25.000 bales of cotton.1

1 A copy of Lincoln’s December 26 reply to General Sherman is in this collection.

W. T. Sherman

major Genl

Document: Abraham Lincoln to William T. Sherman, December 26, 1864 [Copy in John Hay’s Hand]1

1This is Lincoln’s exultant reply to Sherman’s telegram of December 22 (q. v.), presenting to Lincoln the city of Savannah as a Christmas gift.

Executive Mansion

Washington Dec. 26. 1864

My Dear General Sherman

Many, many thanks for your Christmas gift, the capture of Savannah.

When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic Coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that “nothing risked, nothing gained,” I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours; for I believe that none of us went farther than to acquiesce. And taking the work of Gen. Thomas into the count, as it should be taken, it is indeed a great success.2 Not only does it afford the obvious and immediate military advantages; but, in showing to the world that your army could be divided, putting the stronger part to an important new service, and yet leaving enough to vanquish the old opposing force of the whole -- Hood’s army -- it brings those who sat in darkness to see a great light. But what next! I suppose it will be safe, if I leave Gen. Grant and yourself to decide.

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.

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

To Gen. Sherman.

Dec. 26, 1864

Document: Thomas H. Hicks to Abraham Lincoln, December 26, 1864


Decr. 26 1864

My Dear Sir.

I trust you will excuse me for reminding you as I desire to do respectfully of the case of Judge Perry. E. Brocchus,1 that was hanging up at the time I left Washington, to see after our Special Election, that came off on friday last. (terminating properly) I shall be pardoned I trust for manifesting some anxiety in this Case, his, the Judges Domestic troubles, the fact of his Daughters being in our Town, the youngest threatened with, Lung, disease and living here among strangers, by advise of her Physician hoping to improve her waneing health, the destination of your appointee, to that place, alone seems to justify my feeble and well designed effort to have the Judge re,instated -- had there been no drawbacks in the Judges case I never would have annoyed you. you know; I do not -- but if proper please let the Judge go back. it does not strike me as a very desirable place yet some one must have it I suppose-- Now my Dear Sir if it was not doubtful, as to your finding time to read, I would gladly lay a word in regard to things generally, another difficulty, I fear you may think me unnecessarily suspicious & timid. but I do assure you my dear Sir, my apprehensions of the future and the serious consequences in store for us, does cause me concern. I almost tremble, when I think of the growth of Cop,perheadism of Demoralization and general Disorganization in the adhereing States, for it is as true as anything else, that whilst Rebellion in the renegade States is growing weaker and less formidable every day, the sympathisers with the so called Southern Confederacy in the North. the Western and middle States are rapidly encreasing in numbers and power and a well ordered promise of Intervention, by England or France, indeed any foreign power with decent show, and the volcanoe on which we now tread will explode and our entire Country be envellopd in the feirce fire and smoke of civil war, do not I pray you call me a croaker, my days are nearly numbered, they can do me but little injury but I shall leave behind me, a Country, and Children, and little Character, all of which I should be glad to have, live, long after me, I see but too clearly the mad agitation of the opponents of the Government, the Civil the Military and Political elements all seem to be in commotion, sometimes blending at other times in seperate motion, indeed Sir I have no fear for or of the Rebellion as heretofore existing, all terror of the front has passd away, but the rear is becomeing strong and I look to it with dread, God, will stand, direct and control all things well for the honest faithful Patriots to the Govt. of Washington, but indeed every day seems, to admonish us, and closely teach us to look for and ask for Divine guidance and protection, as you know, Sir I have been an eye an ear and heart, sad, heart witness, to this horrid conspiracy agt. the Govt. from its incipiency, and I declare to you that since the first six months of 1861. I have not seen a time so unpromising as the present, the misdoings or failure,s to do, of our subordinates in Military & Civil places, the constant doeing and undoing, the lattitude allowd Traitors and the general tendency of things to ruin, is having bad effect; to conciliate the honest penitent, confirm the wavering bring back the wayward who relents & is good policy. but men professing, and really, good union men to act as counsel, and work for money, where disloyal persons are concerned or clearly guilty unionists are interested is not right-- In conclusion I must say that I fear Democracy has much to do with the times, they will ruin, to rule! forgive this trespass, and read or not as you please-- yr obt. servant Tho. H. Hicks

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.

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.

Richmond Dec. 26. 1864--


On the night of the 11th of November last, I was arrested by the order of Brevet Major General Burbridge
2 at my Country home 25 miles above the city of Louisville. I was carried to Lexington, and kept at General McLeans3 head quarters some two hours. I courted, and confidently expected to have had an interview with General Burbridge. I was by his orders carried under strict guard, and expelled through the Federal lines under the penalty of death if I returned during the war. I was thus forced by necessity into the Confederate lines, to accept the hospitality and protection of a people that I had fought against, and after I had shed my blood in defense of what I considered a noble cause. Certainly one must have committed a great crime to justify such a fate. A poor return for wounds received, and hard service rendered to ones country. Even a thief has the boon of being condemned before he is punished. Seized as a felon, not permitted to talk or consult with my friends, not confronted, no charges preferred, and no trial permitted, I am hurried through the lines to accept the hospitality and protection of a people that I had fought against. It is difficult to defend ones self, when no charges are preferred. I have not even a conjecture to go on, except a telegram that I had cut out of the Cincinnatti Commercial. Which is as follows, “The Post’s Washington letter says the arrest of Lieutenant Governor Jacob will lead to important disclosures. There are rumors of a wide spread conspiracy existing in that State, not to take it over to a rebel confederacy, but to inaugurate a second revolution, the object of which is to make Kentucky independent of the General Government.” If my arrest would lead to important disclosures would not common sense have suggested that I should have been detained and examined. If there was a wide spread conspiracy I knew not of it, nor do I believe for one moment there was any such. I never was connected with a conspiracy, I never belonged to a secret political, military or any other kind of organization in my life. True Mr. President I was opposed to your re-election, and it is the only charge than can with truth be brought against me. I believed your re-election would prove a misfortune to my country. I believed so sincerely. I therefore worked with all the energy and intilect that I possed to defeat you. Thus believing, it was my right and duty to do so, as an American Citizen. You were re-elected against both my earnest wishes and efforts. I had determined to bow as a good citizen to the verdict of the majority of the American people. I had determined to let the responsibility rest on you and those who supported you, if the American Union was broken up, and the Country destroyed. I did not intend to give you factious opposition. I had entered my most solemn protest, that was sufficient. I was not permitted to remain quiet. Three days after the election I was seized. I find this in the Richmond Sentinel of the first of December taken from the Louisville Journal. We are happy to announce that President Lincoln has consented to the release of Lieutenant Governor Jacob and Col. Frank Wolford.4 We sincerely hope that this may be the commencement of a new policy on the part of the President.” Now Sir, I wish to find out whether this is true or not; and if so whether you will not order that I be passed through the lines to return to my duties as Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky? If it is not true I ask of you, and the justice of my government of to rescind the order of General Burbridge. As I have committed no crime, I ask not for pardon, but merely simple justice Will you and my government grant that or not?5 Very respectfully

2 General Stephen G. Burbridge was commander of the District of Kentucky.

3 General Nathaniel C. McLean was a division commander in the District of Kentucky with his headquarters at Lexington.

4 Frank Wolford, the former commander of a cavalry division and colonel of the 1st Kentucky Cavalry, was dismissed from the army in March 1864 for making speeches in which he advocated resistance to the enlistment of black soldiers and denounced President Lincoln. After his dismissal, Wolford continued his verbal assault upon the Lincoln Administration and was again arrested by the military authorities in November 1864. There are several documents in this collection that pertain to Wolford’s case. See especially, Abraham Lincoln, Parole for Frank Wolford, July 7, 1864; Lincoln to Wolford, July 17, 1864; and Wolford to Lincoln, July 30, 1864.

5 Lincoln wrote to Jacob on January 18, 1865 and granted him permission to return to Kentucky. A draft of Lincoln’s letter to Jacob is in this collection.

Richard T. Jacob

[Endorsed on Envelope by Lincoln:]

Gov. Jacob.


Document: Missouri General Assembly to Abraham Lincoln, [December, 1864]1

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 moral force of coercion is not altogether on our side yet-- And we would respectfully urge upon your attention the propriety of keeping in force Orders No 3 and No 35 emenating from Headquarters Department of Missouri at until such time as so far as our State is concerned, we can Say that a thoroughly loyal Sentiment pervades every part thereof--2 We ask this of your Excellency believing that upon it largely depends the welfare of the Union cause in our State -- and the personal safety of thousands of our citizens who have taken an active part in sustaining the Government and we shall as in duty bound forever pray &c

2 General Orders No. 3, issued on November 20, 1861, prohibited fugitive slaves from entering military camps in the Department of Missouri. General Orders No. 35, issued on December 24, 1862, required provost marshals in Missouri to issue certificates of freedom to slaves who had escaped from disloyal masters.

[Followed by Signatures of Twenty-two State Senators]


[Followed by Signatures of Seventy-two State Representatives]


Document: Isachar Zacharie to Abraham Lincoln, December 26, 1864

The following Telegram received at Washington, 12 M. Dec 26 1864.

From New York Dec 26 1864.

Allow me to congratulate you on the fall of Savannah my family are crazy with joy1

1 General Sherman’s army had occupied Savannah, Georgia on December 21. See William T. Sherman to Lincoln, December 22, 1864.

I Zacharie


Document: Benjamin F. Butler to Abraham Lincoln, December 27, 1864

Recd 830 P M

In Cipher

Ft Monroe Va

830 P M Dec 27” 1864

I have just received your note relating to the election on the Eastern Shore--1 The President is incorrectly informed-- I have not, nor has any Officer under my command ordered an Election on that shore--

1 See Lincoln to Butler, December 21, 1864.

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

Maj Gen

Document: James H. Lane to John P. Usher, December 27, 1864

Dated St Louis Dec 27th 1864.

Rec’d, Washington, Dec 28th 1864

Will you interfere to prevent the execution of the order issued by Genl Canby for the evacuation of Forts Smith and Gibson.1 It is of the utmost importance & time is everything. The Indians there are supplied until march the military at Gibson are also supplied until about that time The large trains are through safe only one Government Train having been lost on the Fort Scott route.

1 General Edward R. S. Canby, the commander of the Military Division of West Mississippi, had ordered the evacuation of Fort Smith, Arkansas due to scarcity of troops and difficulty in supplying the post. This order outraged Arkansas Unionists and prompted Lincoln to refer the matter to General Halleck who then forwarded the problem to General Grant. General Grant directed that if Fort Smith could be supplied by the Arkansas River it should continue to be occupied. General Joseph J. Reynolds, the commander of the Department of Arkansas, sent orders to General John M. Thayer on January 12, 1865 directing him to re-occupy Fort Smith. As it turned out, General Thayer had not yet completed the evacuation of Fort Smith when he received the orders to re-occupy the post. See Charles P. Bertrand to Lincoln, December 12, 1864; William O. Stoddard to Lincoln, December 13, 14, 1864; Isaac Murphy, et al. to Lincoln, December 14, 1864; Ulysses S. Grant to Henry W. Halleck, December 30, 1864; Henry W. Halleck to Joseph J. Reynolds, December 30, 1864; and Official Records, Series I, Volume 41, Part IV, 964 and Volume 48, Part I, 428, 497, 515.

J. H. Lane

I earnestly hope this order of Genl Canby may not be executed. Dole2 and myself are of the decided opinion that it would be ruinous to the Indians.

2 William P. Dole

J. P. Usher


Dept Interior

28 Dec. 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

1 A tax on beer and distilled liquors had been passed by the House as an amendment to the Revenue Bill in June 1864, but the amendment was not passed by the Senate during the 38th Congress.

G. Clay Smith


Document: John Gregory Smith to Abraham Lincoln, December 27, 18641

1 Smith served as the governor of Vermont from 1863 to 1865.

The following Telegram received at Washington, 910 A M. Dec 27 1864.

From Montpelier Dec 27 1864.

Accept my congratulations at the splendid Christmas Gift from Maj Gen Sherman2 The Nation will be pleased to share it with you-- The Welkin rings a Merry Christmas Vermont sends her Greeting

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

Gov Vt

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.

From Lexington Ky Dec 28 1864.

So far as I’m informed Lt Gov Jacobs2 offence was making treasonable & seditious speeches calculated & intended to weaken the power of the Government in its efforts to suppress the rebellion His arrest was advised by Dr Breckenridge3 and other prominent loyal men of Kentucky Genl Burbridge4 will address you fully on the subject on his return I have had no communication with him Since the fourteenth (14) instant and do not know his present location5

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

Philadelphia, Dec 28th 64,

Dear Sir

Pardon my apparent neglect, in not addressing you before, to return my scincere thanks, for the mercifull favor in sparing the life of Samuel J. Smith,
1 now in confinement at City point, Virginia, the cause of me not writing before, was sickness brought on by over exertion, in our late political contest, I have been fully repaid by the Glorious result, and thank god, I was permitted to give my humble support

1 Lincoln had ordered the suspension of Smith’s execution on November 3, 1864. See Collected Works, VIII, 88.

May God, direct sustain and Enable you, to crush forever this, wicked, and unnatural rebellion is the heratfelt wish of your


John D Hardy

N W cor 4th & Monroe St

Document: Norman B. Judd to Abraham Lincoln, December 28, 1864

Berlin 28 Dec. 1864

My Dear Sir

You have had so many congratulations upon your re election that possibly they may have become tiresome, and yet none is more sincere than mine from this far off land-- It is not you alone, but the Nation also that should be congratulated at being saved from the complete destruction of its unity and existence as one people by another result-- If the arrangement had been left solely to me, I could not have been bettered pleased-- You at the head of the Nation -- and Chase
1 at the head of the Supreme Court -- you met the public view in that appointment, and showed your magnanimity in giving Mr. C. that place under the circumstances-- I understand well his egotism and self sufficiency and the annoyance that it must have given while in the Cabinet -- and the constant looking forward to making a Presidential issue with you-- You overlooked all that and gave him the place that you had so often told me he was so well fitted for-- He is the only positive Anti Slavery man (original) on the bench, so far as I know-- Jefferson had his [law?] sent after his term had expired-- If the administration for the last three years escape that, they will be more fortunate than ordinary mortals-- The public interest demands an increase of the Anti Slavery spirit on the bench -- to save judicially, what you have decreed administratively -- would you dare trust the future with Nelson2 and the like -- however awed by public opinion just now, the views of hostility to the policy and events of your administration still exists, and when peace is restored, it will crop out. But it is idle for me to speculate about things that must have absorbed your attention for a long time. And I should not now have ventured to trespass upon your time but for some two or three things personal to me and mine-- I wrote you in October but hardly expected an answer--3 I know your burdens, and would not lightly consume any of your time-- In looking over my memorandums yesterday, I was very much surprized to see entered your debt as due in 1864-- I had rested in the belief that it fell due in 1865 and upon that supposition wrote what I did in my last letter-- This negligence is not a good business excuse, but it is the truth and must be made the most of-- I immediately wrote to Mr Rossiter to sell some stocks and retain the proceeds until he heard from me-- I did not advise him for what purpose I want the money -- will you write me when you want your money -- the date and amount of my note and the interest that has accrued on it and I will immediately make the arrangements to have it paid-- But the most painful thing of all is the conduct of Frank-- Could I arrest him in his downward carreen I would abandon all and come home -- but his actions have taken such form that they are a complete defiance of me and all my authority-- Change and repentance will only come to him through suffering. It is hard to think of his disgrace and the suffering he is bringing upon us-- Do you think it cruel in me to say that I would confine him if possible till he should reflect upon his course -- and resolved to do differently-- It is hard to put on paper thoughts such as I have -- I cannot do it-- As a man I must bear it -- but it has fallen with almost crushing effect upon his Mother-- I have kept from her as much as possible, and still tearful days -- sleepless nights and sunken eyes show the sad effects even now -- and if it continues a change of scene is will be absolutely necessary either by travel or change of location-- If any change is made in the Italian Legation will you give it to me -- if Mr Marsh4 is to remain will you allow me to try to arrange an exchange with him-- Nothing but what I believe to be an imperious necessity emboldens me to ask this of you-- It is in your power to grant it, and increase the obligations I am now under to you

Our position here officially and socially is all that could be desired by anybody but many people know my boy, and the Mother is asked almost daily about him It is an additional wound every time.5

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

Yr friend

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 &

obedt servant

Gustavus Koerner

[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

Brig Genl

Document: Fergus Peniston to Abraham Lincoln December 28, 1864

Mr President,

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

1 For more on Peniston, see Abraham Lincoln, Cotton Permit for Fergus Peniston, January 4, 1865 and Collected Works, VIII, 243-44.

I am Mr President

Very respectfully Your obedt Servt

Fergus Peniston

Washington Dec 28th 1864


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.


Executive Mansion.

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

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